When injuries began to make it difficult for Amanda Barnes to continue competing in gymnastics, the then-freshman approached Beaufort girls track coach Herbert Glaze.
The result of that conversation was the beginning of Barnes’ conversion from a gymnast to a pole vaulter.
Almost four years and two 3-A girls pole vault state championships later, Barnes took the next step in her athletic evolution Friday at Beaufort High School, signing a letter of intent to compete for Wake Forest University.
Barnes said the team and the campus were the difference.
“As soon as I got there, I just had so much fun with them and the coach,” Barnes said. “I got to see how pretty the campus was. Everything just sort of fell in to place when I was there. It was where I wanted to be.”
As a freshman, she reached the podium at the state track championships. As a sophomore and junior, she was on top of it.
Glaze expects her to be on top again this spring. And he expects her to set the state record.
It’s not hard for the longtime Eagles coach to pinpoint the reasons Barnes has been so successful.
“It’s her dedication and her devotion and she’s very coachable and persistent,” Glaze said. “And hard work will beat great talent when it doesn’t work hard.”
Glaze noted Barnes sacrifice, as well. She travels to Columbia twice every week to train.
Maybe the only surprise in Barnes success is that she didn’t end up at Clemson. Her father and brother are Clemson graduates and the family ties run deep.
“I grew up thinking, ‘OK, Clemson is it, there are no more schools in the universe,” Barnes said. “All these coaches started calling and I was like, ‘OK, maybe Clemson isn’t the only school.’ I didn’t really know what to look for, but I knew I wanted something similar to Clemson, and I think I found it.”
Beaufort High, track and field
College: Wake Forest
Noteworthy: Barnes is the two-time defending Class 3-A state champion in the pole vault. She competed as a gymnast for 10 years before taking up the vault.
Quote: “I didn’t know what I was doing,” Barnes said of the suggestion she try pole vaulting. “I didn’t even know how many poles there were.”