Celebration High’s David Akins wrestled and played football during this first two years at the school, so he was accustomed to contact sports and exhausting physical training.
As a junior, he learned that height wasn’t an issue for him, either.
Not his personal height – 5-10 – but rather the altitude he needed to clear the bar while pole vaulting.
He had never tried the sport before Coach Joel Fox made a suggestion that he give it a go one day in practice.
“The real story is that David wanted to be a thrower at the start of last year and I told him no,” Coach Fox said. “Halfway through the year we weren’t scoring much in the vault, so we started messing around with it. He was fast and strong and not afraid, so I figured he might be able to muscle his way over a bar.”
Akins did. Within five weeks, he soared 13 feet, far surpassing his coach’s expectations.
“I told him to get over 10 feet any way he could and he would help the team, never really thinking he would be up to 13 feet in less than a month,” Fox said. “Sometimes you get lucky.”
Akins said the sport suited him immediately.
“I liked it. I was disappointed because I didn’t make it to state (last year) because I was fifth at the regional,” he said. “I decided that I was going to put all my effort into it over the summer and get better.”
Picking up a tip from former teammate Jessica Harter, who holds the school’s female pole vaulting record, Akins began working with coaches Jim Metzger and his brother, Martin Metzger, in St. Cloud.
“I went to a couple of meets over the summer. I took a break for football, but as soon as it was over, I was right back at it,” he said.
Akins’ hard work and training resulted in a vault of 14-6 at the Class 3A state meet, good enough to make him the state champion.
The Celebration pole vaulter is the Osceola News-Gazette’s Male Track Athlete of the Year.
“I wanted to do 15-6 at state. I cleared that in practice,” he said.
But, the weather at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville at the state meet was hardly ideal for a track meet – steady rain and wind.
Akins made the best of the situation. He nailed a jump of 14-6 right off the bat, which quickly proved to be the winning vault.
“The weather was bad, probably the worst I ever jumped in, but I fought through it,” Akins said. “The rain made it really hard to hold the pole because the tape was all wet. But, there was a tail wind, which helped. I didn’t have any problem with the traction at all.”
Akins tried unsuccessfully to clear 15-3 three times, but it didn’t matter as he already owned the gold medal.
Akins performance might have won him an opportunity to compete in college.
“The coaches from UNF and USF were there and I spoke with them,” he said. “I’d definitely love to vault in college.”
He helped his cause at a USA Junior Olympic track meet in June at Lake Brantley High when he cleared 16-1.
Akins got a new pole early in the season, which helped him boost his vaults by more than 2 feet.
“I went from a 15-foot pole to 15-7, so that made a big difference,” he said.
Akins said he adapted quickly to the pole vault because he was accustomed to hard work after competing for Coach Vic Lorenzano’s wrestling team two years.
“I think that gave me an advantage. We trained hard. You learn what it’s like to work through the pain,” he said.
Akins didn’t wrestle during his senior year so he could concentrate on track.
He became the third Celebration athlete to win a state championship. Sean Blaney (2005) was the Class 2A cross country champion, and Tyler Osorio (2011) won sprints championships at 100 and 400 meters in Class 3A. Both signed scholarships to UF.
Liberty enjoyed its best ever track season in 2013 as the team won the school’s first district championship in any sport under Coach Robert Pauley. The Chargers also won the Orange Belt Conference championship.

David Akins
David Akins

FROM:  http://www.aroundosceola.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14487:storm-vaulter-made-it-to-the-top-&catid=77&Itemid=78

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