Editor’s note: Hundreds of local seniors saw their spring sports season cut short due to COVID-19. In the coming weeks, The Tribune will be profiling some of these senior athletes.
Keith Born isn’t the most imposing athletic figure. At 5-foot-8 and 135 pounds, the Loganville senior could blend in with the crowd most places.
Until you put him on a track with a carbon fiber pole in his hands and tell him to jump over a bar.
A three-time state finalist, two-time Region 8-AAAAA champion, and school record holder in pole vault, Born spends most of his spring looking down from at least 12 1⁄2 feet in the air.
“It’s really indescribable,” Born said. “You are just weightless.”
Born is one of hundreds of senior athletes who saw their senior season cut short due to COVID-19. There’s a good chance Born would have repeated as Region 8-AAAAA champion and made it to the state meet in Carrollton had the season not been canceled.
Born tied the school record in pole vault last year, clearing 13 feet and 6 inches. In his first meet of the shortened 2020 season, Born tied his own school record and personal best of 13-6 to win the Big Mouth/Shuma Sports Archer Invitational at Archer High School in February.
“This season I was trying to break the school record. That was a goal I set for myself before the season,” he said. “Because of everything I wasn’t able to accomplish that. Its super sad to say I couldn’t do that and if I could go back and do it, I would.”
Born’s father, Rodney, is one of the track coaches at Loganville has been with his son every step of the way during his high school career.
“It’s been a dream come true for me,” Rodney said. “To be there with him through working back through injuries, being there when he has a bad day or being there when he has a great day, it’s really just been a lot of fun.”
Ironically, its Keith who taught Rodney the most about pole vault. Rodney was a sprinter in high school and credits his son with putting in the extra work it took to get better at pole vault and then passing that knowledge on to others.
“Not only has he had the individual success that he’s had, but he’s made every other vaulter in our program better,” Rodney said. “He’s really the one that’s taught them how to do everything. He’s said that he actually enjoys coaching his teammates as much, if not more, than actually being involved in the sport.”
When he’s not setting records in pole vault, Born doesn’t just sit around and watch everyone else. He’s also run the 100, 300 and 400 meter dash events during his time at Loganville and had worked his way on to the Red Devils’ No. 1 4x400 team this season.
Outside of track and-field, you may not be able to sport Born in the stands at football and basketball games, but here’s there cheering on harder than most. That’s mainly because Born’s face is covered by a costume since he serves at Loganville mascot, Pyro, a revelation made at basketball senior night in January.
“It was really cool because that’s something that not a whole lot of people get to experience.,” he said. “You get a totally different appreciation for the student section because you can be on the field getting them hyped up.
“The only downside is you really sweat in that costume. Probably more so than you do in any other sport.”
While Born has picked up at least one official college offer and could possibly get more, the high-flying Devil has said he’s content with this season being the end of his career.
“Coming back from injury and hitting my PR and the school record in the first meet this year was really relieving,” Born said. “It really set me up to let me know I was going to have a great season.”