CAHOKIA Keveion Akins had a tough choice to make two years ago when he decided to trade in his baseball glove for a pair of track spikes and join the then three-time defending state champion Comanches boys track team.
Deciding to sign an NCAA Division I track scholarship offer from the University of Illinois wasn’t nearly as difficult.
The Class 2A State Track Meet runner up in both the 100 and 200 meters just three weeks ago, Akins became the newest member of the Fighting Illini men’s track and field program recently when he signed his national-letter-of-intent.
“I had offers from other schools. McKendree offered and there were other schools in the state which were interested. But the chance go to an NCAA Division I school and compete at a high level...... I’m very excited and looking forward to the challenge,’’ Akins said. “The Illinois track program is one that is on the rise and I’m looking forward to being part of that.
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Akins will join standout hurdler Isaiah Michl of Edwardsville as two of the top incoming freshmen at Illinois beginning later this summer, Akins is also one of four members of the Cahokia team who recently signed scholarship offers. Cahokia won an unprecedented fifth straight Class 2A state championship and set a new record points with 119 at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston last month.
Also signing scholarship offers from Cahokia were Daniall Akins (Indiana State), Seande Vinson (Indiana Tech) and Korrion Session (Campbell University).
A baseball player at Cahokia during his first two years, Keveion Akins decided to run track prior to his junior season after being urged on my friends. One of the top sprinters in the metro-east a year ago, Akins became one of the state’s best this past season.
Akins will more then likely run on relay teams to start his college career. Akins is also one of the more versatile sprinters in the area. In addition to the 100 and 400 meters, Akins is a also a 48-second performer in the 400 meters.
“Probably the 200 meters,’’ Akins said when asked his favorite event. “The reason I didn’t do track my first two years was because I was playing (base) ball and the two seasons are at the same time. Looking back at it now I wish I would have done track all four years.
“It’s not often you get to be part of something like we were on this track team this year. People say we had a lot of talent and we did. But we worked so hard for this. The coaches pushed us hard.’’
Also benefiting from five straight state championships was Session, who will continue his academic and athletic career at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. One of the state’s best in the hurdles, Session placed second in the 110 meter hurdles and fourth in the 300 meter hurdles in 2015.
A gifted athlete, Session also had several other NCAA Division I offers. But showing loyalty, the Comanches great will be heading south for at least the next four years.
“They (Campbell) were the first school which started to recruit me and they stayed on me the whole way. They really wanted me and I liked that. After talking it out with my mother and other family members, we came to the decision that this was the best school for me,’’ Session said. “It’s a long way from home (12 hours), but I think it will be good for me.
“I know I’ll probably be running the 400 hurdles and maybe on some relays. I’m ready. My goal is to break the school record in the 110 hurdles.’’
Daniall Akins will also be competing in a new event in college — the hammer throw — at Indiana State in Terre Haute. The state runner up in the shot put, Akins will journey about three hours east for his collegiate athletic and academic career as a member of the Sycamores track program.
“It’s a good school and when I came for my visits, they (the coaches) really made me feel like they wanted me to be a part of their school and track program. It’s a place where I think I’ll be happy and get a great education. I’m very excited about my future,’’ Akins said. “The hammer throw is something I’ve never done before but I feel like with a lot of work, I’ll be able to get it down.
“Right now, my best event is the shot put. It’s a lot of power where as the discus is more technique and form. Whatever they need me to compete, I’m ready. I’ll give everything I have.’’
As will Vinson who will be close to his Comanches teammate — Daniall Akins, as a member of the Indiana Tech track program. Indiana Tech is a perennial NAIA track and field power. Indiana Tech is located in Ft. Wayne.
Vinson, placed ninth in the high jump at the state finals, is another Comanches who hasn’t reached his full potential yet.
“I went 6-feet-5 at state and I jumped 6-8 a couple of times this year,’’ Vinson said. “I feel like I can go a lot higher still. A lot of it is just technique. My goal my freshman year is to go 7-feet. I feel that’s very realistic.’’
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.