PIEDMONT — For Reagan Fleming, it is a matter a family pride. The rising senior from Wren High School comes from a family known for its success in track and field. Fleming added her name to that legacy this past spring sports season when she won the Class AAA girls’ pole vault.
“My dad was a hurdler at The Citadel, and he has always been there to push us to try new things,” Fleming said. “Both of my sisters pole vaulted and my brother (Max) vaults at The Citadel, too.”
Since the seventh grade, Fleming has been on the Hurricanes track team, but this year sharpened her focus on the sport.
“I got serious about it. I was just working hard at it,” she said.
With the refocused dedication though came sacrifice, namely a twice a week trip to Columbia for extra training at the Rusty Shealy Pole Vault Camp, affiliated with Shealy Athletics. Shealy has trained 91 South Carolina state champions, 11 national champions, and three members of Team USA since 1998.
“I spend two hours with him training. He knows what he is talking about,” Fleming said. “I go with a great friend of mine, Blake Oldfield. We make a good time out of it.”
Oldfield, a senior at Powdersville, won the boys’ Class AA pole vault this year.
Along with the extra training, Wren head coach Larry Clark said the biggest difference for Fleming this year was her increased confidence. That was not all that improved though, according to Clark.
“She also got a lot stronger physically and that played a large part into her success. Doing hurdles also helped strengthen her legs and core,” he said. “She is very headstrong as well and does not dwell on her mistakes. She will come off the mat and will know what she did wrong and adjust on her next attempt. I really don’t even have to tell her most of the time. She is just that aware.”
That mental toughness was displayed by Fleming after finishing second in the Class AAA qualifier to Beaufort’s Amanda Barnes. At that meet, Barnes vaulted 11-feet, seven inches to Fleming’s 10-06. At the state meet though, Barnes only cleared 11 feet. Fleming, who cleared 11 feet to win the Western 3A title this season, left no doubt in the state finals, vaulting an 11-09, a 15-inch improvement from her 2015 state finals best.
Fleming said the training in Columbia, along with a year of growth, experience and dedication, combined for the improvement.
“I just got a lot stronger in my confidence, as well as physically,” she said. “Vaulting is all about muscle memory. Once you get down the fluid motion, it is just about applying it and staying focused.”
Clark though brought up one other thing: Fleming’s lucky hat.
“She always has to wear it. She wore it ever since junior nationals. She has some superstitions, but it works,” he said.
Fleming though said there is a tinge of irony to the hat, and is a constant motivation reminder.
“I got eighth place last year at Junior Nationals, which is the last place you can get to get the hat,” she joked. “It is just a reminder the difference between first and eighth place is not much.”
With the title in tow, Fleming has set new goals for herself, the big one ending her preps career as a repeat as state champion. For her, it all goes back to family and a sibling rivalry with her brother.
“I want to clear 13 feet. He cleared that when he was in high school, and I want to work to that too,” she said. “Overall, I just want to be the best high school athlete I can be.”