It’s nothing new for senior pole vaulter Kovey Simmons. The DeRidder, La. native performed well enough in the 2011 track season to warrant an invitation to the NCAA Championships, and found himself in the same position for the 2012 season. Simmons turned in a solid performance at the NCAA East Regional Preliminaries on May 24 at the University of North Florida campus.
“Kovey made it through and was outstanding,” head coach Sean Brady said about Simmons’ performance in an interview with lionsports.net. “He had no problem pulling the trigger. I anticipate him turning in the same kind of performance at the national meet in a couple of weeks.”
Brady’s anticipation would prove to be correct as Kovey went on to earn All-American honors at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
The victory did not come without defeat, as senior sprinter Michelle Ogashi failed to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Simmons finished 17th, tying with Samford’s Michael Seaman and earning third team All-America honors. He topped out at 16 feet, 10 3/4 inches. Oral Robert’s Jack Whitt is the national champion after vaulting to a height of 18-06.50.
“Kovey represented Southeastern well,” said head coach Sean Brady. “He will leave as a two-time All-American and the best pole vaulter we’ve ever had.”
Simmons was one of 17 athletes from the Southland Conference competing at the Championships and the only representing Southeastern.
In February, Simmons broke the school record for men’s pole vault with a mark of 17-5.
Brady passed much of the credit for coaching Simmons to Mike Bartolina, a former Olympic coach with over 25 years of coaching experience. However, Brady did offer insight into Simmons’ ability to excel at what he does.
“It’s Kovey’s calm under pressure that makes him such a good vaulter,” said Brady.
The mark cleared at the NCAA Championships wasn’t his best of the season and coach Brady expressed some reasoning behinds it.
“He jumped well, but things didn’t fall his way,” said Brady. “Kovey went through the first two bars clean and was right n the mix, but he was just too adrenalized for the pole he was on.”
Simmons joins Robert Martin, Donald Dykes, Greg Lawrence, Ralph Smith and Adonson Shallow as Southeastern’s only multi-year All-Americans.
By Ryne Berthelot