ST. PAULS — Dakota Oxendine has aspirations for making the Olympics one day as a track and field athlete, and this weekend is a step along that journey for the St. Pauls senior.
After winning the NCHSAA indoor track and field state championship in the high jump, Oxendine now takes on the nation’s best at the New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City this weekend.
“Going to nationals is going to change my whole perspective on life,” he said. “When I won states, that’s when I knew that I could go further. I know my abilities and I can final reach my goal. Well I haven’t reached my goal yet because that is going to the Olympics, but I’m getting there.”
He becomes the second track and field athlete to go and compete at nationals under St. Pauls coach David Shaw. Shaw’s son, D.J., went to nationals in 2010.
Shaw has seen Oxendine progress into a high-level athlete in the high jump and credits it back to his work ethic.
“I always try to push an athlete to reach their highest potential. We have talked before and I’ve told him before what he is capable of and it’s just a matter of getting his mindset focused,” Shaw said. “He’s a natural jumper. His work ethic is good and he takes what I tell him to do and tries to do even more with it. We’ve just got to thank the Man upstairs for this.”
In February at the state championships, Oxendine out-jumped the field as he topped out at 6 feet, 7 inches for the event, besting out Northeastern’s Nolan Hodge by two inches. He missed on all three attempts at 6 feet, 8 inches at the event, but said there is room for more after training for nationals.
“I feel like I can go 6 feet, 10 inches, minimum,” Oxendine said. “Knowing that I made it this far, it shows the working progress really paid off. I feel good because I worked this hard and it all paid off.”
While it is all-business competing against the nation’s best, Oxendine also is looking to enjoy the experience for the first time in New York.
“I’m looking to have a good time and enjoy New York because it is my first time going up there,” he said.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.