Fruitland High School graduate and Eastern Oregon University sophomore Talitha Fagen has just capped off an indoor track season that most athletes can only dream about. Fagen was named an All-American pole vaulter and won the event at the Indoor Track National Championship in Geneva, OH.

Before all of this happened though, none of it was even close to guaranteed. “At the beginning of this year I did not have a pole vault coach. Head coach Ben Welch, assistant coach Jeff Hokisson, and volunteer pole vault coach Joe Brogdan worked quickly to find anyone they could. Luckily for me they picked up Bob Heitstuman, who at U of O went about 16’ 6” in the Pole Vault himself,” Fagen said. When Fagen and Heitstuman were brought together, they went to work immediately. “We focused on a few fundamental problems I had with my technique in the pole vault and worked on strengthening my core and shoulders right away,” Fagen said.

The work didn’t stop just there though, as Fagen began a workout regiment that was equivalent to a full-time job. On top of training to compete in the pole vault, Fagen also competes in the hurdles. On top of her intense training regiment, Fagen keeps in shape by picking outside activities that also challenge and push to keep her body in tip-top competing shape. “My workout plan on top of training for the pole vault consists of 6 am weights with the team and 3 pm hurdle workouts.” Fagen said. “When I’m not training for track I like to go rock climbing, slacklinging and white water kayaking with family and friends.” On top of all this Fagen manages to find time to focus on her psychology major, and she hopes to get her masters degree.

Before she even stepped foot on the college this fall, she put even more work during the off-season than most athletes do all year long. “I had a great opportunity to work with Stacey Dragila, the American record holder in the Pole Vault,” Fagen said. “Last summer, I went to Nampa three times a week to workout with her and other athletes that she helps. I try to get to her facility as much as I possibly can. I believe that her technical advice has given me a real advantage in the Pole Vault this year, and she has become a great friend in the process.”

It’s safe to say that all of the hard work she has put in has definitely paid off. On top of being named an All-American this past season, Fagen picked up a first place finish at the National Championship with a vault of 3.83 meters, or about 12’ 6 3/4. A mark in which she cleared on her very first attempt.  That marked the third time she improved the EOU indoor pole vault record just that season. The last attempt broke the record by 5 1/4 inches. This made Fagen the fourth EOU athlete to win the Pole Vault National championship, and only the second female to do so.

While Fagen has enjoyed more success in two years of competition than some athletes earn in an entire career, she is hungry to continue improving.

“I still have many aspects of the vault I need to work on and I need to get even stronger.  It is great to see what I have worked at for the last six years really come to the surface and allow myself to see my true potential. I know that it is not going to stop here. I’m still not satisfied and I’m looking forward to higher heights,” Fagen said. “I cannot take all the credit though. Even though I have put a lot into pole vaulting, I am not the only one who got me here. When I was in High School my dad John Fagen was my coach. He has put the most effort into my vaulting career besides my self and my current coaches, along with countless others that have helped me on the way.”

A big reason for Fagen’s success is remaining humble and remembering where she came from.

“I have to say that the most rewarding moment was running up to my dad after the competition had finished and giving him a giant hug. It’s something my dad has always dreamed of for me,” Fagen said.

“My plan is to keep improving my technique and increase my personal record, because it’s still pretty lousy in my book. I still have a lot to learn. By saying this is all I have would be an incredible mistake. I am only just learning how to really execute the vault and I love vaulting. The camaraderie is like nothing I have ran into before, I wouldn’t give that up for anything.”

 

From: http://www.argusobserver.com/sports/vaulting-to-the-top-spot-fruitland-graduate-talitha-fagen-wins/article_d0ba4d86-acb4-11e3-a030-001a4bcf887a.html

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