King hopes to learn from his ninth place finish in the NCAA Championship

Devin King reached a 17 foot, 10.5 inch height at the NCAA Indoor National Championships. Before the championships, he was undefeated this season.
File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

Junior pole vaulter Devin King finished ninth with at 17 feet and 10.5 inches  at the NCAA Division I Indoor National Championships. 

King, a junior general studies major has accomplished a series of achievements in pole vaulting. Before the NCAA championships, he was placed first in every meet this season. In high school, King broke the U.S. national indoor pole vault record. He qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials. He has been named the Southland Field Athlete of the Week six times and has received the first team All-Southland Conference honors twice. King started his journey in seventh grade. 

“Me and my friends were at track practice one day, and we saw some guys jumping, and we thought it would be fun to just go mess around with it,” said King. “That’s what we did.” 




Though the NCAA championships fell short of expectations, King accepted it as a learning opportunity. He intended for it to help him achieve his ambitions. 

“It’s always been my goal to be one of the top pole vaulters in the NCAA,” said King.  “You know, my biggest goal is to make it to the Olympics. So, I’m gonna work towards that until I actually make it.” 

From the start, King has pushed himself to be a better pole vaulter and has reached greater heights.  

“I’m satisfied as to what I’ve accomplished but then again, I’m not because it would have been nice to make it to the Olympics,” said King. “But that’s just part of the process of staying hungry with moving on to better meets and it motivates you more.” 

One step towards that goal was becoming a college athlete. 

“He was unquestionably the best high school athlete that we’ve ever had the chance to get at Southeastern,” said track & field Head Coach Sean Brady.  

Graduating from high school to the collegiate-level pole vault led to more intense competition for King. 

“I wasn’t used to the environment,” said King. “But now that I’ve been to numerous meets over the past three years, I think I have more confidence with myself and what I can do at each meet because I know what’s going on and what to expect.” 

Junior year has been a transition year for King as he advanced to using longer poles. He prepared for each meet by training hard and planning. 

“The day before the meet, I’ll just think about what I can do going into the meet,” said King. “I’ll visualize myself in the meet and the outcome of the meet, and I’ll just think about all the right things I can do when it comes to the day of the meet.” 

Brady has seen King grow physically as an athlete and a man since recruitment. 

“Devin is pretty quiet,” said Brady. “He holds his cards close to his vest. People may see that as him being reserved and maybe almost arrogant, and that’s far from the case. He’s down to earth and as good a teammate as you’re gonna find. He cares about his team. He cares about his school.”  

People recognize King as a promising, successful athlete, but his life revolves around more than just the sport. 

“Sometimes, I paint,” said King. “Sometimes, I go fishing. Sometimes, I just wanna hang out with my friends. Sometimes, I like to go home and play with my brothers.” 

King offered advice to anyone interested in becoming a pole vaulter. 

“I would tell them to not get discouraged,” said King. “You’re going to be bad sometimes but don’t let that bring you down. Don’t let it consume you. Keep your eyes on the prize and work towards that goal each day that you have the opportunity to. And you gotta focus. You can’t let things distract you ‘cause there’s a lot of distractions that will come at you, but you can’t let that take your eyesight off what you’re looking at.” 

King hopes to compete in this summer’s U.S. national meet and the 2020 Olympics.