Wednesday was all about celebrating for Paris senior Justin Estala.
But that doesn’t mean he didn’t put in work as well.
Estala signed his national letter of intent with Oral Roberts University this afternoon and joins one of the nation’s best pole vaulting programs.
“I picked ORU because of the coach,” Estala said. “Coach (Joe) Dial is a former American record holder in the pole vault. He jumped in the 19s so any coach that has jumped in the 19s knows what he is doing.”
ORU’s Jack Whitt won the outdoor pole vaulting national championship in 2012. Estala will fit right into the program as he has been ranked in the top 10 among high school vaulters.
“We were at the Russellville Cyclones relays and the bar went up to 16-1,” Estala said. “I’d never jumped 16 (feet) before and I cleared it on the first try. We moved it up to 16-4 and cleared it and I was like, ‘man, I can get a scholarship now’.”
Estala’s success is nothing new but it is new for first year track and field coach Kelly Edwards.
“As a 9th grader he won the conference meet and he was just fearless on the pole,” Edwards said. “You could tell he was dedicated to it and he really took off that year.”
Estala will be among 11 vaulters competing in Saturday’s Meet of Champions in Hot Springs but a pair of brothers from Vilonia will be right there pushing him.
“My thoughts and expectations for the meet of champions would have to be that I have good competition,” Estala said. “The Wyatt Brothers will be there. They are my friends but they are also my competition. It’s going to be a tough one.”