TRACK & FIELD: Lions’ King finds groove on the vault

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FRISCO, Texas – Southeastern Louisiana junior pole vaulter Devin King is in a groove right now.
King cleared 18 feet, 4.5 inches in taking first in the event at the South Alabama Invitational on Saturday.

The Kentwood, Louisiana native duplicated the height he made at his previous meet, the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, a mark that is ranked second in school history behind his own 18-8.25 at the 2016 Texas Relays. It also leads the Southland Conference, is tied for fourth nationally and is eighth in the world in 2017.

The performance also earned King his first Southland Conference Men’s Athlete of the Week award for the 2017 outdoor season and the fifth of his three-year Southeastern career, the league announced on Wednesday.

“He’s certainly deserving of that,” Southeastern head coach Sean Brady said. “He’s the highest-ranked athlete in the Southland Conference and ranked No. 8th in the world. I can’t think of anybody who is more deserving of that. It appears the accolades keep on rolling and I hope he can be the athlete of the week every week from here on out because that would mean he is improving and getting better. Everything is projecting out as we expected and I’m excited to see the big jump. He’s been real consistent at 5.60 (meters) and now it’s just a matter of getting in the right meet at the right time.”

Brady and King are both hoping that meet is this Saturday at the LSU Alumni Gold in Baton Rouge. At the meet in 2016, King won with a mark of 18-1.75, just missing on an attempt at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium record of 18-9.25.

“Actually, this meet was the meet to go big,” King said. “So I’m wanting to get a PR – 5.70, 5.75, 5.80.”

King, a three-time All-American, was previously honored by the Southland twice during the 2017 indoor season and once each during the 2016 indoor and outdoor campaigns. It is the third time a Southeastern athlete has been honored this outdoor season as senior thrower Alex Young received recognition for the weeks of March 29 and April 5.

Northwestern State’s De’Shalyn Jones earned Women’s Athlete of the Week honors. Southland Conference Athletes of the Week are presented by

King credits his consistency this season for helping him get in range of his goals.
“If you look at the results from the meets from this year from last year, I’ve definitely been more consistent around 18-4 so that leads to bigger bars,” King said. “I’m definitely on the right track to jumping higher and better this year.”

King has picked up wins in two of his three meets this outdoor season, including a winning 18-2.5 at the Miami Hurricane Collegiate Invitational.

“I think that’s always the first phase in the progression of seeing the big bars, you just get consistent,” Brady said. “And it’s not always a linear progression. It’s got its peaks and valleys throughout, but we haven’t seen many valleys so far this year.”

King said the consistency just comes through experience.

“Just being more mature, being smarter.” King said. “I have more experience this year than any other year so I think that helps a lot in me being more consistent.”

King is hoping that consistency carries over into the championship season, beginning with the Southland Conference Championships in New Orleans May 12-14, followed by the NCAA East Preliminaries and the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and concluding with a run at making the U.S. national team over the summer.

“It feels good to be that high-ranked in the world,” King said of his No. 8 world ranking, tied for the fourth-best by an American athlete. “It’s still early in the season, but to have that mark and be that high up right now really helps out in the long run to be better and to do better.”

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