Jace Weaver wins 300m hurdle State Championship, carries on family track legacy started by his father

Published 2:31 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

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When Bainbridge track star Jace Weaver grew up, he always heard, “Your daddy was fast.” When he played tag or ran around outside, he was reminded of his father’s speed. He said he never knew why everyone kept talking about his dad, but as he got older and started running track at Bainbridge Middle School, it started to make more sense.

“He’s worked with me since day one,” Jace said about his father. “I’ve got old videos, you know, seventh grade, of us working on some hurdle drills… I started understanding more and more like, “OK, now I get why he’s fast.” 

Ty Akins, Weaver’s father, is a highly decorated track athlete. He set national records for Nigeria, program records with Auburn University and high school records at Bainbridge High School. His main events were the 110m and 300m hurdles, and he claimed state titles in both for the Bearcats 20 years ago.

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Weaver runs those same events today, and now, he can say he’s “as fast as his daddy.” 

Weaver won the state championship in the 300m hurdles and the state runner-up title in the 110m hurdles at the GHSA 4A State Championship over the weekend.

“Everything I did at practice, all the hard work I put in,” Weaver said. “It paid off.”

Weaver ran a 38.16 in his 300m hurdle championship win, shaving more than a second off his personal best and beating second place by .23 seconds.

“My mindset was I already knew I was going to win,” Weaver said. “At times, I was on 37 pace 36 pace during the season, I just couldn’t put it all together. I just knew I could beat everybody in this field… I gave it my all. I gave everything my all.”

Weaver’s 38.16 makes him the 4th-fastest 300m hurdler in Bainbridge High School History. He’s nearly a second behind Aiken’s best high-school time of 37.21, and two seconds behind the Bearcat’s record of 36.20 set by Tavaris Washington.

“All of the work that he’s put into it, to see him reap the benefits of all that work, It’s priceless to see that,” Akins told WALB reporter Morgan Jackson.

Weaver ran a 14.38 in his 110m hurdle runner-up win, taking nearly half a second off his personal best.

“I’ve got to get out and run,” Weaver told himself before the race. “It felt great. I went my hardest, and I ran a [personal best].”

Weaver’s 14.36 makes him the 3rd fastest 110m hurdler in Bainbridge history, sitting less than a second behind Aiken’s all-time record of 13.62.

The state championship win has been a long time coming for Weaver. Starting his track journey five years ago, he’s worked tirelessly with Bainbridge coaches and Akins to become the championship-caliber athlete he is now. He said he takes most after his father’s mentality on the track.

“Really, it’s my mindset,” Weaver said. “You’ve got to have it in your mind like, ‘I’m winning this. Nobody’s beating me. I put in the work…’ just looking at how he explained it and how his mindset was, I got that from him.”

When Weaver started track, Akins said he didn’t want to put unfair pressure on his son, given his success in his track career. Early on, He stayed on the outside and let Weaver “develop the love for the sport.” 

“I run the hurdles because [my dad] ran it,” Weaver said. “But not only that, I found love for it too.”

Akins started playing a more significant role in Weaver’s track development during high school when he knew Weaver had developed his love for track. 

“His sophomore year was like this epiphany,” Akins said. “He was working on hurdles in the yard. He would, you know, go running up and down the street. Once he did that, I was like, ‘OK. there’s the dedication and there’s the sacrifice… I’m all in, I’m going to dive in. We’re going to talk physics, we’re going to talk times, workouts, hurdle drills.’”

Weaver said he worked countless hours on the track, with the help of Akins, to improve his craft.

“He really gave me the blueprint,” Weaver said. “He showed me why we do this drill, why we do this, why we do that… he showed me a lot of things that you’re not going to get at the high school level, he was showing me college things.”

Akins said it is “a joy to watch” Weaver fall in love and excel in the sport he did when he was Weaver’s age. He also said it’s nerve-wracking watching his son go through the same challenges he went through to become a better runner.

“On one hand, it makes me as proud as I can be,” Akins said. “And on the other hand, I’m just a nervous wreck because I know the feeling. I know how bad he wants to do good.”

Weaver worked hard and has “done good,” with a state championship and runner-up title to show for it. At the end of the day, Weaver said he just tries to be his best in every race.

“I leave it all on the track,” Weaver said. “That’s all I do. You never want to take a day for granted.”