Kam Cummings doesn’t fit the prototype for a hurdler.
At 5-foot-8, Cummings has a smaller build. Some coaches question whether he can make the jump to the college level.
The only jump the Catholic High senior is worried about right now is the triple jump, an event he will compete in Saturday to help the Bears pick up some extra points at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Indoor track meet.
Cummings’ primary focus is on the 60-meter hurdles, a showcase event during the one-day meet at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House. He enters the meet with a personal-best time of 8.05 seconds, which ranks 10th nationally.
“I guess I realized track was my thing when I came to Catholic in middle school and coach (Pete) Boudreaux introduced me to the hurdles,” Cummings said. “Within the first month, he saw potential in me and I thought I could take it and go somewhere with it.”
Cummings has indeed gone places, usually very fast. He is the defending indoor Division I champion in the 60 hurdles. Such success is no surprise to those who know his background. His father, former LSU football player-track sprinter Chris Cummings, ranks in LSU’s record books with indoor times like 6.13 seconds in the 55 meters and 6.71 in the 60 meters. His mother, Tammy Stevenson, was a top jumps specialist for Southern University.
“My mom had me try a lot of sports when I was growing up,” Cummings said. “I played football and soccer when I first came to Catholic before I decided on football and track. I remember my mom taking me to a track meet when I was maybe six or seven. She asked me if I wanted to try it. Neither one of my parents pushes me. I really like it.”
Cummings is not the first undersized hurdler to have success. Kevin James of Belaire and Baker’s Kelvin Kelly ranked among the national high school leaders in the 1990s. Kelly, who is now coaching at Zachary, also had a successful career at Arkansas.
Boudreaux said he does not think Cummings will have a problem adjusting from the 39-inch high school hurdles and the 42-inch hurdles used in college.
"Kam reminds me a lot of Kelvin,” Boudreaux said. “He was not a big tall guy, and he had a great college career. I don’t think the move to 42 inches is going to be a big difference for him. He has always three-stepped between hurdles naturally. He’s so strong and explosive. He gets to the first hurdle so fast, and technically he’s sound. He snaps his legs over the hurdles and doesn’t glide.”
Boudreaux and Cummings said the spring outdoor season will likely determine what kind of scholarship interest he gets. Cummings was slowed by a hamstring injury last spring. At the Class 5A state meet last year, he finished fourth in the 110 hurdles and hit a hurdle before finishing ninth in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
The plan moving forward is to have Cummings enhance his times in both events, along with added work on running relay legs.
First, there is one last 60-meter LHSAA indoor race, something Cummings relishes.
“I like them all, but my favorite race is the 60 because it’s quick and easy,” Cummings said. “But you have to focus for the whole 60 meters. When you do, you usually get what you want. I’d love to go under eight seconds, but I’ve got to get the points for my team.”