Logan Fraley went into the track season with higher expectations.
The Brandeis senior had already established himself as a quality pole vaulter but coming up short of the 2017 Class 6A State Meet ended his junior year on a disappointing note. After all, Fraley was in the hunt for a trip at the Region IV Meet to the end, clearing 14-6 to finish in a four-way tie for second. The tiebreaker came down to fewer misses and Weslaco’s Jon Zapata advanced.
Being left out, however, served as motivation to avoid that scenario in the future.
Fraley’s strategy for that was making sure he was at this best every meet.
Looking at the way things are going, Fraley has been soaring since day one. He began the season with a 15-9 at the NISD Meet and then vaulted 16-1 to claim the District 28-6A Meet. However, the highlight came at the Region IV Meet when he not only won the gold medal but set the regional mark with a 16-3.
Now, the Texas Tech signee is heading to the Class 6A State Meet with plans for greater success.
Fraley’s chances of doing something special are favorable. He enters the state meet with impressive credentials as his 16-3 is second to defending 6A champion Tyler Lee’s Branson Ellis’ 17-4. But the Brandeis vaulter is optimistic about coming home with a gold medal.
Much of the confidence came from the regional experience.
Hitting 16-3 is a confidence boost for me,” Fraley said. “From that jump I know what I need to work on to go higher. I have no doubt I can hit 17-0. I believe I have a good chance of winning. In pole vaulting nothing is set. You can have a really good day. You can have a really bad day. That goes for any meet. Anything can happen. I have to focus on myself and do what I have been doing all year.”
Fraley also sees another advantage. This past month, he competed in the Texas Relays, which served as a preview of what to expect at the State Meet.
“Being at the Texas Relays was a perfect way to get ready,” said Fraley, who finished seventh with a 15-2. “I had never jumped there. The runway is very fast. The wind was pretty inconsistent. so I had to make adjustments. But it was a great learning experience for sure.”
When it comes down to this year’s success, Fraley believes the commitment during the summer has made the difference.
This was the first summer Fraley vaulted and the results were much to his liking as he finished ninth at the Junior Olympics. A big boost came from working with vaulting instructor Kris Allison at Lone Star, who provided valuable pointers in his overall approach.
“I think summer track really helped a lot,” said Fraley, who also qualified for regionals in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles. “I got a lot faster. Speed is one of the most important things of pole vaulting. That’s probably my most valuable asset. I wanted to do more events, because I knew I could contribute more to the team.
“I learned a lot from Kris. I worked a lot more. My season never stopped. It made a difference. You have to be dedicated. You have to practice as much as you can to get better.”
Setting the regional mark served as the perfect reminder of how hard work pays dividends.
Fraley had already won the event before he tried for the record, so there was no pressure. That’s not to say a bit of drama didn’t occur.
While clearing the height, he grazed the bar, but much to his relief, it stayed in place.
“I knew coming into the meet I had something to go for,” Fraley said. “It was definitely fun, and I was more relaxed since I had already won. But I definitely wanted to get the record. It worked out. It wasn’t the cleanest jump, but I got lucky with the bar.
“I thought it was going to come off. When I hit the mat and saw the bar still there I was in total disbelief. I thought wow, to get that on my first attempt.”
Fraley’s commitment to becoming the best is leaving an impression.
“He has a great work ethic,” Brandeis track coach Leo Gonzales said. “He has great focus. He’s been amazing. He’s a great pole vaulter, but also ran the hurdles and a leg on our 1,600 relay. Just watching him prepare for a meet, you see his full focus. This year, he made up his mind to do whatever he could do be the best.”
Through all the work and determination, Fraley also has a special passion for vaulting. That started as a seventh grader when Garcia Middle School coach Gary Martin encouraged him to give it a try.
Fraley followed the advice and a whole new world opened.
“Coach Martin thought I had the right body type for it,” said Fraley, who still works with Martin on his vaulting. “He asked me if I wanted to try it. I tried it and started progressing. I was never afraid. I was pumped about it.
“It was something different. It’s not something everyone can do. Those are the things I like to do. I love it. The higher you get is super exciting.”
In addition to Fraley, NISD has three female athletes going to state.