Babin flies high for state win

Tina Harbuck
Kobe Babin goes up and over for a 12-foot vault at Emerald Coast Middle School earlier this season. The vault was a school record for Destin Middle School.

After two misses, the third time was the charm for Kobe Babin, who placed first in pole vault at the Florida Middle School Track and Field State Championships in Bradenton recently.

Babin cleared the bar at 11feet, 6 inches to take the title.

The Destin Middle School Marlin, however, came close to not making it at all.

With the bar set at 10 feet, he had to clear it to even have a chance.

On his first attempt, Babin’s timing on his run was off, so he didn’t jump.

“Then I missed going over the bar on the other one,” said the 13-year-old.

Then with one more try left, he cleared it.

And when it was all said and done, Babin reached a height of 11-feet-6 for a chance to stand center stage on the podium.

His personal best this season was 12 feet, which he set in April at Emerald Coast Middle School in South Walton. His vault broke the 10-foot-6 record for Destin Middle School as well as broke the record of 11 feet for the Emerald Coast stadium.

As for state, “Winning state is pretty exciting and the medal is very shiny,” he said.

Last year, Babin’s personal record in pole vault was 9 feet.

“I decided to go to a different coach and ever since then I have loved it,” Babin said.

Babin trains with Daniel Ryland in South Walton.

“I went there and improved 2 feet in two days,” Babin said.

Babin trains with Coach Ryland two to three days a week.

“He’s a good athlete,” Ryland said.

Ryland said pole vaulting is the most single athletic sport an athlete can do.

He explained not only do you have to do an all out sprint, but with a pole in your hand.

“The run has to be accurate, then you have to jump on that pole and then throw your weight over the bar,” which is set 10- to 12-feet high, Ryland said.

But flying high through the air doesn’t scare Babin at all.

As a matter of fact, he loves it.

“I like to go in the air. I like jumping off things,” said the fearless teen.

Pole vaulting isn’t Babin’s only track and field event. He also competes in discus, shot put, high jump and 4 x 100.

Babin, son of Nancy and Shane Babin, also plays basketball and soccer for the Destin Marlins.

But pole vaulting is by far his favorite.

“You don’t have to exhaust yourself and it’s just fun to do,” Babin said.

Babin plans to attend Niceville High School next year and continue with pole vaulting.

“Kobe is a good kid and smart. He’s going to go far and be very good. He’s going to be a contender,” Ryland said.