AURORA -- Greenmen girls track and field coach Ricky Buoncore could have done without all the drama.
Leah Angelo's 10th-place finish in the Division I state high jump was suspenseful as can be. The Aurora junior-to-be cleared both 5-2 and 5-4 on her final try, before falling, along with three girls ahead of her, at 5-5.
"She made it pretty interesting, but she knows what she's capable of," said Buoncore.
Angelo has seemingly relished the high stakes tension throughout her first run to the state championship meet.
She made it to Columbus by nipping Chardon's Jessica Liechty in a jumpoff at 5-4 for the final spot out of the Austintown-Fitch Regional. Then in Columbus, she showed no emotion whatsoever as her sophomore season came down to one last jump at three consecutive heights.
"On my last jump, I kind of just don't think of anything," Angelo said. "I don't do any run buildups, I just shake my arms and shake my legs and just jump."
To be clear, the stakes were high. If she missed at 5-2, she would have finished in a tie for 15th. Even if she missed at 5-4, she would have finished 15th.
Instead, she finished 10th, and without all the early strikes could have finished as high as seventh, even without clearing 5-5. Yet in a meet featuring such little separation, where every jump meant so much, Angelo was undaunted.
"She's extremely confident and she has a great attitude and she believes in herself, so that's never a problem," Buoncore said.
Angelo's rise, becoming Aurora's only state qualifier this year, has come quickly. Last year, she confessed with a laugh, she was only jumping 5 feet, and even that was a thrill.
Now, she's consistently at 5-4 and even that's not enough. She's hoping for 5-6 next year, so she remains on pace to hit the school record of 5-8 her senior season.
"Last year, I jumped 5 feet only a handful of times and I was so happy when I got that, but now I kind of get upset when I get just 5-4, because I set high expectations for myself," Angelo said.
Even after making it to state for the first time and finishing just shy of the medal stand and after boosting her personal record by 4 inches this season, the Aurora junior-to-be wasn't exactly jumping up and down, simply saying, "It's a good learning experience."
Buoncore went a little further. "She had to make it interesting for us, but she did great, and we're very proud of her," he said. "The sky is the limit for the future."