Normandy track and field athlete Vlad Sokol had quite the offseason experience that he believes can be beneficial during his senior season.
In the summer of 2016, Sokol competed in the 17th Annual Down Under Track and Field Meet at Griffith University in Southport, Queensland, which is located on the Golden Coast of Australia.
Two years ago Sokol received a letter in the mail from the International Sports Specialists Inc., which hosts numerous international athletic events. If he attended, Sokol had an opportunity to compete with high school athletes from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition, it was a chance to enjoy a vacation.
The trip cost $6,000. It was a matter of raising money to go on a journey of a lifetime.
“I have to worry about how to get $6,000 in a matter of a year,” Sokol said.
Sokol’s fundraising effort consisted of selling Malley’s chocolate bars, which earned him the temporary nickname of “Candy Man”.
“Obviously, I had to sell a lot of chocolate bars. I ended up selling over 3,000 chocolate bars in a matter of six months,” Sokol said.
The trip to Australia was for 10 days – two consisting of practice and two that involved the meet in its entirety. The rest of the trip to Australia was leisurely.
During the track and field meet, Sokol competed in a total of four events, two which are not remotely affiliated with his specialty, which is the hurdles, the 4x400m and 4x200m relays.
Sokol ran in the steeplechase and ended up throwing javelin in addition to running the 110m hurdles and 300m hurdles.
“I never saw a javelin in person because they’re not legal in track and field in Ohio. Luckily there was a kid from Idaho that showed me what to do. I didn’t throw very well, I threw like 20 meters at most. They had us practice it for two days and thankfully no one killed each other,” Sokol said with a laugh. “I came in last easily. It was very entertaining, I wish it was legal in Ohio.”
Nonetheless, Sokol did what he does best – excel in the hurdles.
Sokol earned silver in the 110 and 300 hurdles. In a gigantic field of runners, there were eight heats of eight competitors. In the 110, Sokol ran a 15.82, and in the 300, he ran a 41.92.
“It was great. It was wonderful knowing that I’m not just good in Ohio, I’m okay in other places too. The other person that beat me was an American from Indiana,” Sokol said.
After the 17th Annual Down Under Track and Field Meet, many of the athletes from the U.S. left for home. An incentive of competing in the meet was also having the opportunity to spend three days in Hawaii for a small additional charge. Sokol took advantage and enjoyed his time in the Aloha State.
Fast forward to the 2017 season, Sokol is excited as ever to compete.
As a senior, he has two goals in mind – make it state in the 300 hurdles and break the school record.
Last year, Sokol missed out on making it to the state meet in the 300 hurdles, his forte, by .95 seconds, finishing with a 40.44.
“My expectations is at least make it to state. You may not do as well as you want to do or place where you want to place, but you have that experience and that makes you a better person and that’s all that matters,” Sokol said.
As for the school record in the 300 hurdles, he has been eyeing the number ever since he was a freshman, which is 39.59.
“That is my goal, to break 39.59 and finally take that record off the board and put my name up there.”