RAYTOWN, Mo. — Raytown South’s Zaya Akins always knew from when she was a kid, she was pretty fast.

“When I was 11 and started racing other 11 year olds, I started leaving people, so I was like, hmm, I kind of got something here,” Akins said

“I’ve been watching her run since middle school and my first impression was ‘Wow!'” said Raytown South Head Track Coach Thomas Stueve.

This year, Akins is taking it to whole new level, setting state records and currently holding the number one time in the nation for high school girls in the 400-meter dash and Top 5 in the 200 as a junior.

“It means a lot, because I put in so much work, so now it’s nice to get some attention,” she said.

So how does she do it? It all starts with the start.

“I have bad nerves and bad anxiety, so I just try to calm myself, breath, try to say a little prayer, might say a couple Bible verses, because that’s the only way I’m going to get through,” Akins said.

And her teammates take notice too.

“They’ll ask me questions because they know I know a lot. They also goof off a lot, joking around with me saying ‘Look at you going to state, number one!” she said.

“A lot of kids see how she works, how she prepares, kind of takes some mental notes on how she conducts herself,” Stueve said.

Ever the perfectionist, she still said she has things to work on to get even better.

“I’ve always had good form, but there’s still small critiques from my racing and stuff,” Akins said.

She learns from some of the best, her father, and former Olympian Muna Lee, who she trains with in the summer and winter.

Akins maintains a 3.9 GPA while dealing with the new found fame and the college recruiters. There’s just one thing she can’t quite be the fastest at: her hobby of roller skating.

“They’re zooming around in the rink!” she said.