High school track and field: Sarah Snell “stands tall” on and off the track

High school track and field: Sarah Snell “stands tall” on and off the track

photo courtesy of Affinity Photo Studio

by James Tate

No straight path led Sarah Snell from being a multi-sport athlete to becoming a nationally ranked state javelin champion. Snell finished the 2022 track season as the 2A state champion and ranked 46th in the country after her 137’9.5” winning throw at the 2022 state championship meet. Snell’s main competition was 2A record holder Mary Degraffenreid of Millard High School.

“Mary had been ahead of me all season, and it seemed like I was just chasing her at this point,” Snell said. “I decided to put it all out there, and it ended up giving me the upper hand.”

That throw at the biggest meet of her career catapulted Snell into the top spot heading into her senior season and looking for a record-setting year.

“I hope to break the record by the end of this season,” Snell said. “It is a goal of mine and would be a very good moment to look back on after I enter college.”

Snell initially considered herself a successful sprinter rather than a star in a field event.

“I was mainly interested in the social aspect of track,” Snell said. “I’m hoping to be a sprinter of some sort.”

Playing multi sports paved the way for Snell to find her mark and become one of the best javelin throwers in the country.

“I ended up focusing on javelin because the mechanics are heavily related to those of volleyball and softball,” Snell said. “Those are sports which I enjoyed a lot and was decently good at.”

The ultimate teammate

Snell continues participating on the track, running the sprint events at different meets. She enjoys helping her team in any way she can. Being a great teammate is a part of Snell as she is a multi-sport athlete for the Jayhawks.

Snell was outstanding as a volleyball player for the Jayhawks and has played on the varsity level since her sophomore year. She made the 2021 2A Deseret News all-state third team as a junior. In 2022, she made the honorable mention team and was third in 2A with 330 kills. Snell’s play on the basketball court was impressive, leading the Jayhawks with 13.8 points, 11.7 rebounds, and five steals per game.

Snell shines as a leader

“She has contributed to the athletics program here in so many ways,” Saint Joseph’s Athletic Director Cindy White said. “She has been a leader to all her teams (volleyball, basketball, and track and field) from the moment she began here.”

Snell enjoys the success of her teammates at every opportunity and has fun being a Jayhawk.

“Sarah means so much to every team she has been on, not only for her athletic abilities but also for the person she is and the teammate she is,” White said. “Sarah has an incredible drive to succeed and a work ethic that inspires others around her.”

Snell signs with the University of British Columbia

After completing high school, Snell will continue her academic and athletic future at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on a track scholarship to throw the javelin. The process that led Snell to the UBC Thunderbirds was lots of research and her openness to following her heart.

“Once I had realized that throwing the javelin could be something I could do in college,” Snell said. “I immediately started doing my research on schools and programs which would fit me.”

“While looking at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Javelin championship list, I came upon UBC, whose women’s team took the NAIA title last year and had a female javelin thrower come in first,” Snell said. “I then started to research and found that I loved Vancouver, the challenging academics, and most of all, the track team.”

“I came in contact with the coach, and after getting invited to visit and ended up falling in love with the program and the values and standards they hold their athletes to,” Snell said. “After a couple of weeks of deliberation, I decided that it was the right school for me and signed.”

Academics come first for Snell

Doing research for attending college is a reason Snell will succeed at UBC, but most important Snell puts her academic goals above her athletic pursuits.

“She has also been named to the Academic All-State team,” White said. “She is a role model for our student-athletes at St. Joseph and other schools by her actions, and we could not be prouder to have her as a Jayhawk.”

Snell understands her success results from a great support group of adults and teammates.

“One of the most influential coaches and people in my life is definitely Cindy White,” Snell said. “As my school’s athletic director and volleyball coach, and has helped me in so many different ways.”

Achieve, believe, and inspire

“She taught me how to see sports, not as a job, but as something that can actually be enjoyed,” Snell said. “She has been there for me as I was trying to get recruited for basketball and track and field. Her knowledge and kindness have helped me in athletics and life.” said Snell.

The joy of high school sports is having great teammates and friends to share the ups and downs with and encourage each other to always do their best.

“A lot of the younger athletes on the team are trying things for the first time this year, but they don’t allow themselves to make mistakes and think things should come right away,” Snell said. “They just need to know that you don’t need to be overly critical of yourself to see improvement and to have fun.”

“She pushes others to bring out the best in themselves and their teammates,” White said. “And her competitiveness trickles into all of our athletics programs.”

Snell gives her time and shares her positive attitude with the community outside of school.

“My school gives us many opportunities to help in our community,” Snell said. “We volunteer at places like Catholic Community Services (CCS) and Youth Impact.”

“I also enjoy helping with sports camps with younger kids,” Snell said. “I am usually teaching volleyball or basketball”.

Snell exemplifies the Saint Joseph Catholic High School motto of achieve, believe, and inspire every day. The sky is the limit for her bright future.

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