Pole vaulter gains strength as only VHS girl wrestler

By DELILAH WOODS , Vandegrift Voice 

She clearly remembers walking into the large gym that smelled of metallic weights and sweat. The lump in her throat grew as her nerves kicked in, but not because of the gym’s aroma. She was the only girl in a gym full of male wrestlers.

Ina Edstrom’s drive to better herself led to her joining the all-male wrestling team this past school year. The recent Vandegrift graduate’s efforts paid off as she will go on to represent the University of South Alabama in pole vaulting in the weeks ahead.  

Edstrom was the first girl to join VHS wrestling. After reviewing her options, the pole vaulter decided that this physical training class would allow her to improve the skills she needed when competing in her field event. 

There was no track class during the day at VHS, only cross country. Her junior year she “didn’t do the cross country period or any sports during the class day and I felt like I was getting behind. I looked at the choice sheet for classes, and I was like  ‘well there’s wrestling on here; maybe I could do that.’”  

She emailed the coach and ended up joining the wrestling team.

The boys treated her as any other teammate and head wrestling coach Paul Muck said Edstrom  

 always put forth a positive attitude, pointing out her focus, effort and attitude as part of what helps her succeed.

She did a “great job doing exactly what I ask her to do,” Muck said, adding she was very focused on perfect technique on all of the lifts and always gave great effort with a positive attitude. “Athletes that do those three things are very easy to work with.”

Edstrom overcame the obstacle of being in her comfort zone when she joined the wrestling team. She found some differences with her boy teammates.

Like when they did weight training, she had lower weights because she’s not as strong, she said. “But yeah I could do bodyweight exercises about the same as them, pullups and ab workouts, I could do that too,” she remembers.

Edstrom’s practice in wrestling helped her improve in pole vaulting this past season.

“I think I improved a lot sophomore year,” she said, “I went to the junior olympics that summer and I was doing really good, and then all of a sudden I hurt my back. Then I couldn’t jump for a whole year. It kind of set me back and now my back feels way better, now I’ve been just improving steadily.”

Edstrom won the AAU Junior Olympics in 2017.  She came back her senior year with more strength and dedication than ever before which will now spill over into her college pole vaulting career. 

Edstrom broke VHS records for track throughout the season.

“Ina has proven to be an elite pole vaulter with all the personal and school records she set this season,” pole vault coach Laura Joiner said. “I’m excited to see her enjoy continued success as a college pole vaulter!”

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