Zaya Akins will still be headed to the Southeastern Conference next year.
On Tuesday, July 18 the 3-time Nike and New Balance Nationals 400-meter champion tweeted she will attend the University of South Carolina. That comes after announcing her de-commitment from the University of Kentucky on June 30.
She was a very highly recruited athlete out of Raytown South. When she announced her top five choices in September 2022, she had Texas A&M, Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida -- all current or future SEC schools.
South Carolina recently hired former Kentucky assistant coach Tim Hall to be the head track and field coach on June 23.
Akins will also follow former Cardinals standout Quincy Hall to Columbia, South Carolina. The two-time 400-meter state champion competed for the Gamecocks in 2019 and the 2020 indoor season before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his final outdoor track and field season.
Akins was named the 2022-23 Gatorade Missouri Girls Track and Field Player of the Year -- repeating an honor she won last year as well -- last month.
She won the MSHSAA Class 5 state titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events this past season, concluding her prep career as the fastest competitor in Missouri history in each event, including an NWI mark of 11.36 in the 100 and a 52.83 effort in the 400 in 2023. That comes after moving up to the state's largest classification this spring after dominating in Class 4 last year.
Akins ranked in the top 20 nationally in all three sprints among girls' high school competitors, at the time of her selection. She captured a New Balance indoor national championship in the 400 and finished second in the outdoor 200 at the Great Southwest Classic.