‘It’s just great I can represent where I’m from’: Austintown Fitch freshman to compete for world title


AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On June 19, Austintown Fitch incoming freshman Julia Wileman was crowned a champion after her first place finish in the Super Stock Division in the Portage County Soap Box Derby. Along with some hardware, Wileman earned a trip to Akron to compete in the World Championships at the end of July.

“It was just incredible that I could make it that far and receive that much,” Wileman said. “I did not expect to get this far winning, you know. It was just…absolutely incredible.”

Wileman joined the middle school’s STEM program in the seventh grade. She became a driver on one of the soap box team for one reason: Her size.

“It was just who ever fit best in the car was the driver and you figured it out,” Wileman added.

She certainly got the hang of it.

“It helps to be low in the car,” she said. “You take a lot of time out of your day to stretch, so you can get really low. You’re bent over in the car. You have to reach the steering and keep your wrist up. There’s a lot that goes into the actual steering of the car.”

At age 14 in her very first year as a driver, Wileman has won every race she’s competed in.

“Well, I really just did this for fun,” Wileman said. “I know there’s a lot of racers I’ve competed against. The girl that came in second place, everyone was really great. People have been racing up to seven years and this is my first year. I thought I needed a little more experience to get that far, but…”

Roughly 500 people will be competing at the World Championships. Wileman is excited to be representing her hometown on the sport’s biggest stage.

“I take a lot of pride racing from Austintown Schools, you know,” she said. “There’s a lot of schools, a lot of countries coming to race, so it’s just great that I can represent where I’m from.”

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