WOODSBORO – Anthony Meacham has been pole vaulting for four years.
But there are moments when Meacham appears to have been vaulting his entire life.
“You can feel it sometimes,” Meacham said. “Sometimes you’ll have a good takeoff and you’ll feel that takeoff just take you in and you feel that swing just come together and it just feels perfect.”
The 16-year-old Meacham has had good feelings for much of the summer, clearing 17-feet, 1½-inches at the recent Bay Area Meet in Dickinson, the top vault in the nation for his age group this year.
“It’s just natural for me,” he said. “Everything’s coming to me and it’s muscle-memory. It’s like how a pitcher throws a fastball and how a football player reads a gap. It’s all like that.”
Meacham will get a chance to compete against some of the nation’s best vaulters when he travels to Menifee, Calif., for this weekend’s Vaulter Magazine High School National Championship.
“Everybody wants to go out there and do the best they can and get some PRs,” he said. “But mostly it’s just about pushing everybody else to do their best and them pushing you back. It’s a competition where they want you to succeed and you want them to succeed as well.”
Meacham has been training at the Vault Barn this summer as he prepares for his junior year at Woodsboro.
Woodsboro’s Anthony Meacham headed to the Vaulter Magazine High School National Championship in California. pic.twitter.com/rqCaw7y6rd— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) July 29, 2020
He won the gold medal in the pole vault at the state meet as a freshman before last year’s meet was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the season was shut down, he resumed training at the Vault Barn before an accident slowed his progress.
“The pole slapped him and he came down in the box,” said Kevin Hall, who coaches Meacham at the Vault Barn. “It freaked him out and it would freak anybody out.”
Meacham admits it took him some time to get over the accident, but he was able to work through it.
“Really there were some mental blocks and some rough patches,” he said. “We started working more. I worked on everything and just started to get better.”
Hall has been impressed by the progress Meacham has made this summer and is convinced he will only get better.
“He doesn’t know he good he can be,” Hall said. “He really doesn’t. I mean he knows he’s jumping high bars. He understands he’s jumping high bars, but I don’t think he can wrap his brain around it.”
Meacham’s improvement has not lessened his fear of heights as Hall discovered at a meet this summer at MAC Vaults in College Station.
Meacham went up to a skybox to relax before entering the competition at 16 feet.
“I texted him when it was time for him to come down and start moving around,” Hall recalled. “There was an open staircase. I was watching him and he opens the door and he steps out and you saw his grip on that railing. He turned his head and he put his hands on the wall as he came down the steps. He said, ‘Coach, I’ll never go up there again.’ But he opened at 16 feet and got it on his first attempt.”
Meacham has already caught the attention of college coaches around the country, drawing nine Division I offers, and his list of suitors is likely to grow as he gets more exposure.
Meacham’s immediate goal is to break the Class 2A state record of 16-9, and he has his eyes on the overall state record of 18-3¼.
“It’s unreal for me,” Meacham said. “When I started, I just thought it was going to be fun. I’m going to try it out and it’s something other than football and baseball, which everybody likes to do. But it’s grown on me for a while and I love it.”