Pepsi-Cola Student Athlete of the Week: Leah Wood

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 8:10 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Leah Wood is a star senior at Stuarts Draft High School.

“It’s kind of scary because you have to use a pole to jump into a small box,” said Wood.

Wood is one of the first pole vaulters in the history of Stuarts Draft. Over the past four years, she has established herself as one of the best athletes to ever compete for the Cougars. Wood has won four state championships in the pole vault and will be aiming for her fifth title this spring.

“You never know where you will excel,” said Wood. “But if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.”

According to track coach James Carter, Wood has used pole vault to set lofty goals on the track and beyond.

“She’s really taken to this sport with a vision of where she wanted to go with it,” he explained. “And she has gotten to that place.”

This fall, Wood will be continuing her track and field career at Liberty University, where she will compete as a Division I student-athlete for the Flames.

The drive to Liberty is familiar for Wood, who began her pole vaulting career in Lynchburg. Since the sport is new for the Cougars, Wood continues traveling to Lynchburg for extra practice, and her mom is always by her side.

“I see how dedicated she is and I’m very thankful for her,” said Wood. “I look up to her as a role model.”

With her continued success on the track, Wood is helping pave the way for the next generation of pole vaulters in Stuarts Draft.

“There are many girls who want to follow in her footsteps,” said Carter. “If it wasn’t for Leah, we wouldn’t have this interest.”

As Wood goes for a final state title this spring, she will prepare with the same snack that has fueled her for the past four years.

“Cheerios are my superstition,” said Wood. “I don’t know why but I eat them every single time I compete.”

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