Annie Rhodes-Johnigan's Road to Success

Posted at 11:07 PM, Jan 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-27 00:07:01-05

Waco is home to a three time Big 12 champion, three time All American, the holder of the indoor and outdoor Baylor track records, as well as the Big 12 record. 

Her name is Annie Rhodes-Johnigan, and she is a professional pole vaulter.

"Annie was just ponytails and braces, and just a lanky nothing... and just skinny, skinny girl but had the heart of a lion," Jack Chapman, Rhodes-Johnigan's club pole vaulting coach since middle school, said.

In 7th grade, Rhodes-Johnigan went searching for her sport, and that's when she discovered pole vaulting. But, what she did next was nothing short of impressive. 
"In high school, by senior year, I cleared 14 feet," Rhodes-Johnigan said. 

Clearing 14 feet, she was the number one high school vaulter in the country, and she was being recruited everywhere. 

"Baylor was always probably at the top of my list. I'm a family girl. I'm from Waco so, I wanted to stay close to home," Rhodes-Johnigan added. 

Rhodes-Johnigan joined the green and gold, and her will to win never faltered. It was at the Big 12 meet her senior year, she said she had the meet of her life.

"I cleared 15'1.5" and that broke the Big 12 record, broke the Baylor school record, put me at number one in the NCAA. So, it was a big meet... on my birthday. One of my favorite memories," Rhodes-Johnigan said. 

It was at that moment, Rhodes-Johnigan decided to turn pro. But, she knew she'd need to become faster, stronger and more technically sound if she were to continue to find success. 

For speed, she looked to the Baylor Men's speed and track coach, Michael Ford. 

"I was a little shocked, but I also knew, since I have coached for a while and I've been at a lot of international meets, I understood where she was trying to go to," Ford said.

But, who she called for technique wasn't shocking at all. 

"Coach, can I come home? She said, I'd like to come back home and would you train me for 2020?" Chapman added.

In an effort to make the USA team, Rhodes-Johnigan now travels nearly every weekend to compete against the best in the world.

And that's right where she belongs. 

Rhodes-Johnigan was invited to the first meet of the World Indoor Tour this weekend. 

Saturday, she vaulted in the Boston New Balance Grand Prix where she cleared 15'1.50" for a new indoor personal record. She placed third behind the 2018 USA champion and the 2016 gold medalist. 

Copyright 2019 KXXV. All rights reserved.