CINCINNATI — Robby Oswald went to bed late Wednesday night thinking what occurred a few hours earlier at Dayton's Welcome Stadium had been a dream.
In fact, the standout Elder pole vaulter didn’t have to worry about any such illusion – even if he didn’t grasp reality. He just needed to be pinched a few times by his teammates.
Oswald, a senior, set a new school, city and regional record with a jump of 16 feet 9 inches at the Division I regional meet Wednesday night.
“The whole van ride home he kept saying, ‘16-9, I can’t believe it,’” Elder track and field coach Brian Flaherty said.
Oswald, an Ohio State signee, qualified for next weekend’s state meet at his future college venue – Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus. He was 10th at state with a jump of 14 feet as a junior.
Determination is the operative word going into next week. His 16-oot, 9-inch mark Wednesday night vaulted into 10th nationally this spring.
Oswald broke the Elder record of 15 feet, 10 inches, set by Tim Roa, according to the Elder athletic department. Roa won the 2003 state title with a jump of 15 feet, 8 inches.
Oswald also broke the regional record of 16 feet, 3 inches, which was held since 2009. To put it into perspective, his personal record was 15 feet, 4 inches entering Wednesday night.
“We went crazy,” said longtime Elder pole vault coach Rick Christoph. “We were ecstatic.”
A crowd emerged around Oswald as he attempted each new mark Wednesday night. A video highlight of his record-setting jump showed his exuberance.
Flaherty returned home at 11 p.m. and couldn’t go to bed because of the adrenaline rush. He texted with Oswald’s dad Scott until 12:30 a.m. and the two watched the video clip over and over.
“It was incredible – unbelievable,” Flaherty said. “Just a great atmosphere.”
On his last full day of class as a senior Thursday, Oswald couldn’t ask for a better way to reflect on a memorable week. There was still an element of disbelief Thursday morning.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Oswald told WCPO.com. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”
Oswald had been consistent at 15 feet the past six weeks of practice, according to Christoph, and his warm-up Wednesday night indicated it could be a special night.
“His form and technique just clicked last night,” Christoph said. “It was just him being a heck of an athlete.”
Oswald just wanted a chance to qualify for state and the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet in June. Clearing 15 feet, 7 inches would have qualified him for the national meet. He easily surpassed that.
Oswald, a three-sport standout at Elder, jumped 16 feet, 2 inches on his third attempt.
Once he cleared 16 feet, 9 inches, it maxed out the standard and meet officials had to get the extension to reach 17 feet. He attempted that twice, but the Elder coaching staff didn’t want to push anything else because Oswald is a diabetic and his blood sugar was getting low, so he opted to be content and get a bite to eat.
Oswald can get light-headed without proper nutrition. He is aware of challenges of managing diabetes while playing sports, but being a three-sport athlete is certainly very significant.
“It’s just an amazing story to me,” Elder Athletic Director Dave Dabbelt said. “He’s an all-star football player, an all-star wrestler and an all-star in track. He’s also a diabetic and his family transplanted up here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.”
Oswald was 7 when his family moved here. They live in Delhi Township next to St. Dominic Parish.
This past football season, Oswald, 18, was first-team all-GCL South with 76 receptions for the Panthers.
He was also 27-11 in wrestling and finished second in the district and was a state qualifier.
“It’s awesome to see what Robby is doing,” Elder football coach Doug Ramsey said. “He is a three-sport star that is finishing his high school career setting records. I couldn’t be happier for Robby and all the things he has accomplished.”
Oswald also plays piano and is known for being humble around others and a good teammate. Because of wrestling, he gets a later start on pole vault than others who compete during the indoor season. But, he's made the short two months very worth it this spring.
“He’s got the whole package,” Dabbelt said. “It’s good to see the good things happen to him.”