JEFFERSON -- It wasn't until Caleb Ebbets had reached the top of the podium, the apex of a career that began in curiosity and soared beyond anything even Ebbets could have imagined.
There he was, atop the high school world of pole vaulting, fresh from setting a new state record in the GHSA Class AAAA state track & field meet with a vault of 15-6, which shattered the old mark of 14-9.
That's when it got to him.
"(There) I was at the top of the podium,'' said Ebbets, who took up pole vaulting as a sophomore. "I was thinking, 'I made it to the top.'
"There's no better feeling.''
He was standing there thinking about that magic moment two years ago when he finished eighth in the state meet with a vault of 12 feet.
"That was the biggest moment at that point,'' he said.
Ebbets then added: "And when they announced the guy who finished eighth, I thought about it. It hit me. I thought that would be me right now. I thought about how far I've come.''
He has horizons to conquer yet.
Ebbets, who has already verbally committed to Georgia, has cleared 16-1, and was a little disappointed he didn't hit the same mark at the state meet.
"But I'll take the state record,'' he said. "I wanted to reach 16-1, but it felt great to break the state record when I cleared 15 feet. Then I broke my own record when I cleared 15-6."
Ebbets' sister Holly finished second in the girls state meet last week, but she is only a freshman. Both are trained by former world pole vaulting champ and mentor Charlie Polhamus, who guaranteed to The Herald on Tuesday that Caleb would break the state record.
To think it all started for Caleb when he was a freshman at Lee County and he first saw a pole in the Lee County gym.
"I thought, 'That looks pretty cool,' " he said, never imagining what it would lead to.
All those thoughts and more washed over Ebbets on Thursday.
"It's just a wonderful feeling,'' he said.
Ebbets' first-place finish gave Lee County 10 points, while the Trojans picked up another point when Jacob Kennedy finished eighth in the 1,600 meter run. Kennedy and Ebbets are Lee County's lone representatives at the meet.
Herald sports writer Mike Phillips contributed to this story