ST. PAULS — When Dakota Oxendine came to St. Pauls High School as a freshman, he saw himself as a baseball player, but St. Pauls track and field coach David Shaw saw otherwise.
“I’ve been around track for 34 years and I look at a kid and can tell their potential by their quickness, abilities and their legs,” he said. “I kept pushing and asking him and he finally came out. I think he’s enjoyed the successes of coming out there.
“He’s a great young man, and if he continues to work at his success like he has in the past, he’s going to have a bright future.”
Oxendine gave track and field a shot during his sophomore season and since has collected Three Rivers Conference, regional and state titles in the jumping events, and will continue to do so next year at Western Carolina University. The senior signed his letter of intent to compete with the Catamounts’ track and field team over offers from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and St. Augustine’s. The moment Wednesday was culmination of two years of work for him.
“I’m glad I chose track and field. I love it,” Oxendine said. “(Signing) is everything that I’ve been working for and it’s the next big step. … I went there and I viewed the environment and it’s nice. It’s not too close to home and I just like it out there.”
As one of the top High Jump athletes in the state, Oxendine took the state indoor High Jump championship in February and finished in a tie for third at the outdoor competition this past weekend.
Although he jumped 6 feet, 8 inches at the Mideast regional at UNCP the weekend before, Oxendine cleared 6 feet, 4 inches at states, but the goal-oriented jumper already has his eyes set on a new height.
“I’m definitely planning on hitting 7 feet by the end of my freshman year. I plan on that being an average jump at every meet,” Oxendine said. “I’m going to be competing at the collegiate level and I feel like they can get me to that point.”
When watching Oxendine compete, Shaw sees a likeness to his son, David Shaw Jr., before he left St. Pauls for St. Augustine’s. While there, the younger Shaw won multiple All-American honors and an individual national champion in the hurdles.
“I think in the future Western might have All-American material,” Shaw said of Oxendine. “I wouldn’t cut him short by saying he might be national material.”
Along with getting a scholarship to compete on the track and field team, Oxendine also has an option to compete on the girdiron to cover all his bills.
“The coach told me that if I was to walk on and play football, then I would be there for a full ride, while also getting to do track,” he said of the option he is “definitely” planning on pursuing.
Oxendine was a kick returner and wide receiver his junior year at St. Pauls.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.