* Julie Segroves (right) teammate Lindsey Kuykendal of D'Iberville High School
Never let size deceive you.
Because in 2021, a young pole vaulter from Mississippi is producing some incredible results.
The 5-foot tall pole vaulter Julie Segroves of Diberville High, Mississippi, is raising both the bar and the state's figurative eyebrows as she keeps defying gravity and going higher and higher. After seven years of soccer and seven years of gymnastics, the stage has been set for great things to happen.
Last year as a seventh-grader, Julie wowed everyone with a national best indoor jump of 10 feet, 9 inches at a Mac Vault meet -- it currently stands as the highest indoor jump ever by a seventh-grade girl.
She then upped it again to 11-2 later in the summer, but just missed the cutoff date for seventh-grade marks. Over the winter she competed at the Texas Expo Explosion in Belton, Texas, but had to lay off a month before the meet with a strained lower back.
At the meet, we didn't know if she could jump, but she picked up her pole and gave it her best effort. Her adrenaline was off the charts and she started blowing through sizes.
Luckily, Fibersport was loaning out poles, so she borrowed a bigger one, jumped once, and then cleared 10-10 to place second, barely brushing off the winning height of 11-4.
Fast forward to start her 8th-grade season on the Mississippi coast. Her run started by winning first place at the TFCUSA Indoor National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama with a leap of 10-8.
Next, she started her middle school outdoor season and smashed the Mississippi middle school mark with a jump of 11-9. A few days later, she was the last girl to jump and it was dark and cold by the time she picked up her pole.
After a warm-up jump, she couldn't see the box because it was in the shadow of the stadium lights so someone put a cell phone light at the back to light it up. Julie went on to clear 11-6 and then went right to 12-feet in hopes to up her middle school mark but couldn't quite pull it off in the dimly lit pit.
After that meet, the Diberville high school track coach Carlton Cotten had seen enough and called her up to the 6A girls varsity team to compete with the high school girls -- she didn't disappoint.
In her first high school meet, Julie made quick work of 11-6 and had her eyes focused on a 12-foot bar once again. On her first effort, the bar Gods smiled on her and she was the proud owner of the new school record.
To sweeten the deal, the team went home with the first-place trophy winning by a slim six points. Hold the Gatorade.
Normally a storybook ending would stop there but not with Julie. Her next competition would prove to be a monster meet that nobody saw coming. At her very next meet she started getting better timing with the recoil and smashed her 12-foot mark on her first try no bar love needed thank you.
Some in the stands felt there was magic fixing to happen, so the bar went straight to a height higher than the 6A girls varsity state record mark of 12-5. Everyone in the stadium was stunned when little Julie flew over 12-6 on her first attempt.
But wait there's more.
She was not quite finished. Just had to squeeze one more inch into the deal. On her third attempt at 12-7, the bar didn't even wiggle and her new mark of 15 minutes was up again. Not a bad first half of the season for the little girl from Mississippi.
Julie now has her eye set on 13-feet by the state meet on May 1.
Julie and Lyndsey's Coach Weldon Galle has a problem every coach hopes for, the number one and two ranked pole vaulters in the state of Mississippi.
MileSplit Mississippi editor note: Segroves holds the all-time state best in the girls pole vault. Her chance to set the state record will come at the MHSAA Class 6A state meet. It is just terminology but in Mississippi, the state record comes at the state meet, while the state best comes anytime during a high school athlete's career while in school. Either way, I predict that Julie will hold that state meet record, and the state best mark, by the end of this season.