OKEMOS – Sophia Franklin has always been competitive.
She danced for eight years, but in middle school, Franklin decided that she needed more of a challenge. Six years later, and Franklin is one of the top track athletes in the state and Michigan State bound next season.
The Okemos High School track star is coming off of a dominant junior season, finishing second in the pole vault, fourth in the 100-meter hurdles and fifth in the 300-meter hurdles at the Division 1 state finals. She also finished second in the pole vault and 60-meter hurdles at the New Balance Open in Allendale, Mich. on Jan. 14, 2017.
The New Balance Open won’t be Franklin’s last event before the high school season begins, as she is working towards the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March. She plans on going to meets every other weekend to see how she stacks up with other athletes across the state. The Okemos track season will begin on March 22 at the Saginaw Valley State Indoor Invite.
“Most of the girls that were kind of ahead of her are coming back as well, but she’s had a really good offseason so we expect that top five again in three events and potentially add a fourth event with maybe one of the relays,” Okemos High School track head coach Brian Harrod said.
Franklin visited MSU, Illinois State, South Florida and California Long Beach. She chose to sign with MSU because of her comfort level and the progress she felt she could make once she got to campus.
“I always kind of had that thought in the back of my mind, like I want to go D1 and I want to run for a program like MSU so when the opportunity came along I was super excited and it definitely pushes me even further now that it’s senior year. I definitely want to go into MSU being very confident,” said Franklin, who stands 5-foot-7.
Franklin didn’t start hurdling until seventh grade, and didn’t start pole vaulting until her freshman year, but has spent almost two years working with pole vault trainer Jerry Sessions in Maple Valley, Mich. to help with technique. Sessions has coached regional, state and national champions at both high school and collegiate levels.
“She’s a really talented athlete and it’s really been fun to coach her,” Sessions said. “She works really hard, she’s not afraid to do whatever we ask her to do and she kind of takes things on herself to fix things.”
Franklin is now a senior and she knows she has to continue working to get better. She is still working to perfect her technique in the pole vault with Sessions and Okemos pole vault coach Justin Turner, while also getting stronger in the weight room to improve in the hurdles.
“I’m working on a lot of almost like in the air stuff. My body awareness in the air I feel like I need to get better at,” Franklin said. “We’ve kind of not perfected, but definitely cleaned up my takeoff a lot from year’s past so that’s really good. With the hurdles, getting stronger I think is another thing that’s going to help me a lot. Being in the weight room almost three days a week I think is really going to help so I’m looking forward to that.”
Franklin wasn’t very strong as a freshman, but with the help of Turner, Sessions and Harrod, Franklin has added just under three feet to her pole vault and slashed just under six seconds off of her 300-meter hurdle time since freshman year.
“Her freshman year she came in pretty slight (small) and she’s worked hard at that, she’s worked hard in the weight room, all those kinds of things so she’s gotten a lot faster and a lot more athletic through hard work,” Harrod said.
Franklin will look to culminate her high school track career at the Michigan Division 1 state finals, which will be held on June 3 at East Kentwood High School.