Most tracks athletes are pleased with small improvements in times or distances. Jewel Sumner senior pole vaulter Devin King is not.
King’s improvement has been meteoric. He broke LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House record two weeks in a row and last week with a vault of 17 feet, 8 inches — which is the top top prep indoor mark in the nation this season and ranks second all-time indoors.
He will attempt to break the national high school indoor record during Saturday’s Louisiana High School Athletic Association Indoor Championships set for Saturday at LSU. Andrew Irwin of Mount Ida, Ark., set the national record in 2011 by clearing 17-9¼.
Though his marks of 17-4 and 17-8 the past two weeks have increased King’s visibility on a national stage, he is anything but an overnight success story, having already won three state titles, two outdoors and one indoors.
King started the pole vault in seventh-grade. He cleared 13-10 as a freshman, 15-6 as a sophomore and won the Class 3A outdoor title in 16-8 as a junior. King’s ondoor best of 17-3 was set last spring in Mobile, Ala. He has his sights set on 18 feet this season.
“Most people go up inches every year,” Jewel Sumner assistant principal and track coach Jay Stuckey said.
“Devin goes up a foot or more. He comes from a good family. He’s a hard worker and self motivated.”
Episcopal girls track coach Eddie Cole is also a fan.
“Devin has brought more excitement to an already exciting sport,” Cole said. “To have a national leader from our state says a lot about track and field in Louisiana.”
King, who signed a track scholarship with Southeastern Louisiana University, works out three times a week under the tutelage of former Olympian Erica Bartolina, who competed for SLU. He’s technically an advanced pole vaulter. Having grown three inches since last season, the 6-foot-1, 165 pounder has improved his strength and approach speed.
After clearing 17-8 last week, Stuckey said he would have preferred King raise the next height to 17-10 to go for the national record. Instead, King failed on three tries at 18-0.
“If Devin jumps like he did last week, I think he’ll get the national record,” Stuckey said.
“On one of his jumps at 17-8, he cleared it by 3 inches or so. After he gets 17-0, we think he’ll go up to 17-5 and then 17-10. “I’m going to try to get the record,” King said. “I’ll open at 16-0. I want to clear my heights and not waste any energy while waiting.”
King has four 15-6 poles and two new 16-0 poles that he is adjusting to. Collegians use even longer poles (16-6 or 17-0).
“My freshman year, I was too small and couldn’t jump on big poles,” King said. “The following year I matured physically. I went to Reno last year and saw the pros jump and that inspired me even more.”
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