Deerfield star pole vaulter Reed Hancock, foreground, center, smiles before signing her scholarship with Alabama. Hancock, a two-time GISA Class AAA state champ and state record-holder, was joined by, front row, from left, coach Charlie Polhamus, sister Pate, mother Joanna and sister Perin, and in the back row from left, grandfather Fred Hancock, grandmother Sandra Hancock, father William and Zell Cooke.
ALBANY --- Reed Hancock may never come down. At least not any time soon.
The Deerfield senior pole-vaulting specialist just keeps soaring — soaring beyond expectations, past state records and onto Cloud 9, where it seems like she’s lived since her sophomore year.
She was definitely there again Monday, surrounded by friends, family and her coaches as she became the second Division I track & field signee from Southwest Georgia in less than a week. Hancock is headed to compete right away for Alabama’s rising program, while Monroe star Mimieux Land signed with Clemson last Thursday.
“It feels great. I’m so excited to be a part of something that could be big at Alabama,” said Hancock, who also took visits to Auburn, Vanderbilt and Virginia before deciding on Alabama — the last school she toured while making her college rounds. “There’s an all new coaching staff, we’ll have a new indoor facility to train year round in. And this signing class — 27 of us, I think — is the largest they’ve had in school history.”
Hancock then added with a laugh: “It was bigger than their football signing class!”
Hancock may just be the biggest thing in Crimson Tide track & field if she keeps soaring like this.
When she jumped 11 feet, 6 inches at the state meet in 2010 — breaking the GISA Class AAA record — nobody thought she was done.
And she wasn’t.
Hancock was selected to Team USA for the Junior Olympics in Singapore after her sophomore year, then she came back a season later and broke the state record again, this time with a leap of 11 feet 9 inches for her second individual championship.
Now she has even loftier goals.
“First, I want to push the bar even higher when it comes my state record — I want to make it 12-6, at least, before I’m done. Maybe even 13,’’ she said with a sly grin. “We’ll see. I’m clearing that in practice right now.
“And, second, I want to get to the top of the marks that (the best jumpers in the SEC) are doing right now. That’s 14 feet. I just have to keep practicing, use bigger poles, work out more. And I will. I’ll do what I need to do.”
Her personal pole vaulting coach, Charlie Polhamus, was at this stage once in his career. The former world pole vault champion was able to do what he needed to do to take things to the next level, and he sees the same gleam in Hancock’s eye.
“She’s earned every bit of success she has. But she’s not done,” said Polhamus, who runs a private track & field training facility in Fitzgerald — specializing in pole vaulting — that has now produced a half dozen D-I signings in the last three years. “When she gets to Alabama, she’s going to be a force as a freshman right away.”
Hancock’s parents, Joanna and William, sure hope so, even if their daughter is, after all, going to play for a rival.
“My whole family is Georgia fans, but they’re excited for me,” laughed Reed, who plans to major in nursing. “It felt right to me and to them.”
Joanna added: “It’s a great fit for her because she found the place she felt she fit in best. Plus, it has a great nursing program.”
The track program is getting pretty good, too.
New coach Dan Waters, who is about to enter his second season, made his second recruiting class one to remember for the Tide, who have been in rebuilding mode since seeing nearly a complete turnover in their staff in the past two years. They finished Waters’ first season ranked in the Top 10 in the South Region Poll.
And now, of the 27 recruits Alabama snagged, 11 are currently ranked in the Top 25 nationally in their respective events, while 19 have won at least one state championship.
“There’s quite a few student-athletes we signed that I feel are future pillars of the program and can develop into multiple point scorers in the future,” Waters said of Hancock’s recruiting class. “I believe we really stuck close to the vision of the program and the direction we want to head. This group of talented student-athletes is big step forward in our overall plan to bring Alabama track and field to a position of prominence in the SEC and nationally.”