By BEN HENDERSON | Special correspondent Published: February 26, 2013 Updated: February 26, 2013 – 4:31 PM
Freedom high senior Sandra Akachukwa is usually pretty tired at the end of a track meet. While most athletes might participate in one or two events at a meet, Akachukwa is often competing in four events (the maximum allowed under FHSAA rules).
“I feel exhausted, but successful,” Akachukwa said.
Successful might be an understatement. Akachukwa was an all-state performer last year in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, high jump and long jump. Her favorite event, the high jump, also happens to be her best event. She has a personal best of 5 feet, 8 inches and last year at the 4A state meet finished third in the event.
“In the high jump, you don’t think of anything. You can just clear your mind,” she said.
Her breakout performance was at the Hillsborough County championships last year. Akachukwa was first in the 200 and the high jump, and second in the 100 and the long jump. By herself she would have beaten 18 teams in the county with the 36 points she amassed.
Freedom head coach Dwight Smith and assistant coach Ryan McGee also knew Akachukwa could be a top performer. She ran track at Liberty Middle School, right next door to Freedom, where Smith saw her excel. Akachukwa then attended King High for two years, however, to be in their IB program. She transferred to Freedom before her junior year.
Still, even they were surprised with what she did at the county meet. McGee wasn’t able to be at the county meet last year, but Smith was giving him updates.
“I kept calling (McGee) giving him updates and each time he was like ‘No she didn’t, ‘ “Smith said. “She went to a different level at that meet.”
This could be a breakout year for the Freedom girls track team as a whole. Along with Akachukwa, who will be attending Western Kentucky next year on a track scholarship, Freedom will also have Faith Woodard, a transfer in from Riverview who just finished up her basketball season last week. Woodard won the high jump last year at the 4A state meet and was sixth in the 400-meter dash.
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Freedom Patriots girls track squad eyes team title