Daily Chronicle 2024 Girls Track Athlete of the Year: Indian Creek’s Reagan Gibson

Indian Creek senior takes second in pole vault for third state medal

Reagan Gibson, Indian Creek pole vaulter track athlete of the year.

SHABBONA – Reagan Gibson wanted to run. She most certainly didn’t want to be stuck riding a bike.

Although a knee injury sidelined the Indian Creek senior pole vaulter during the first part of the season, Gibson ended up back near full strength by the time the season wrapped. For her accomplishments this season, including a second-place finish in the pole vault at the Class 1A state meet, Gibson has been named the Daily Chronicle Girls Track Athlete of the Year.

“It was driving me crazy on the bike,” said Gibson, who qualified for state all four years in the pole vault and finished fifth or higher three times. “But at the end of the season I think taking all the time off really paid off, because I was able to place second.”

After finishing the indoor season taking second at the Illinois Top Times Indoor Championships – the unofficial state meet for the indoor season – she suffered a mild knee sprain.

It was, however, severe enough to keep her sidelined. After the March 22 Top Times meet, she vaulted only twice heading into the Little Ten Conference Championships, as her knee would get sore anytime she put weight on it. She had to spend two weeks without being able to run, a stretch she called very trying.

“When I first did it, I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll be fine. I’ll give it a few days and I’m sure it will go back to normal,’ ” Gibson said. “A few days later, I was like, ‘Oh, a few more.’ I wasn’t too worried about it. And then after a week or two, I was like, ‘Mom, maybe we should see the doctor. I don’t know what’s wrong.’ ”

Gibson also had competed in open sprints and relays, but this year only pole vault because of the injury.

The injury didn’t stop her from clearing 11 feet, 6¼ inches at the conference meet and then setting a season best at the Class 1A Bureau Valley Sectional. She only needed to go 10-6 on the opening day at state to make the final, then went 12-1½ to take second on the last day.

She ended up not building on her school record of 12-6. She had broken her record nine times on the way to that height. But she still ended with her best finish at state after a fourth-place finish in 2023 and taking fifth the year before.

“It’s been really awesome to see her progress, not only as an athlete but as a person in general,” Indian Creek coach Jenilee Johnson said. “I’ve had her in school for three years, so I got to see both sides of her as a person. Every year I feel like she continues to improve and improve and improve.”

Johnson said Gibson creates a great atmosphere for the program.

“She just radiates positivity at every track meet,” Johnson said. “Most of the invites we go to she stays the whole time even though a lot of times she does just pole vaults and helps with relays here and there. She’s a great team leader as a senior this year, and last she was a great team leader as a junior.”

Gibson will head to Murray State, the third IC girls track athlete in as many years to join an NCAA Division I program and second going to Murray State. Caroline Bend finished her freshman year at Winthrop, and Brooke Probst wrapped up her sophomore season at Murray State.

Gibson said she’s happy to continue the tradition of the small-school athletes going to the highest collegiate level.

“I would hear all their college recruitment stories and was like, ‘Man, that’s really cool,’ ” Gibson said. “Then I started to go through it, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m there.’

“It’s really cool to be a part of, because watching these people progress and then being able to do it as an athlete is just really special.”

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