Nansemond River High School junior Mia McClain hands the baton to sophomore Kara Lyles, beginning the second leg of the 4x100-meter relay on Saturday at the 2013 VHSL Group AAA state outdoor track and field championships in Newport News. The team improved on its time from regionals with a mark of 49.20 seconds.
Nansemond River High School junior Mia McClain hands the baton to sophomore Kara Lyles, beginning the second leg of the 4x100-meter relay on Saturday at the 2013 VHSL Group AAA state outdoor track and field championships in Newport News. The team improved on its time from regionals with a mark of 49.20 seconds.

NRHS ends strong at championships

Published 9:52pm Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Nansemond River High School track team endured a difficult weekend that was saved by strong performances on the second day of the 2013 Virginia High School League Group AAA State outdoor track and field championships at Todd Stadium in Newport News.

Nansemond River coach Justin Byron described the first day and a half of the state meet as “Murphy’s Law.”

Sophomore Zakiya Rashid was seeded second going into the discus throw, but had a rough Friday.

“The winning throw was shorter than her regional throw, and she didn’t even make the final,” Byron said. “So, that was rough.”

Freshman Brandee Johnson missed the final in the 100-meter dash by finishing one-thousandth of a second out of the eighth and final qualifying slot — 12.28603 seconds to 12.28567 seconds.

On Saturday, things did not get better as senior Kieaira Middleton, who had to take the SAT in the morning, could not make it in time for the 4×100 relay. In her absence, Byron moved Johnson to the 4×400 team and plugged in sophomore twins Candice and Courtney James on the 4×100.

This change required one more uniform of the team than it had on hand, forcing it to borrow one from another team.

“Murphy’s Law was kicking our butt, and then Divine intervention happened,” Byron said.

The Nansemond River 4×400 team cut seven seconds off its time from last weekend, emerging from obscurity in the heat of slower teams to deliver a stunning second-place finish (3:51.83).

“The 4×100, with two novice athletes on it, actually ran faster than we ran at regionals, so that’s very promising for the future,” he said.

Johnson finished an impressive third in the 200-meter dash with 24.91-second time, behind two seniors.

Then the 4×400 team produced what Byron said was “probably the highlight of our outdoor season.”

It was the same group that won the indoor state championship in the 4×200-meter relay: Middleton, junior Mia McClain, sophomore Kara Lyles and Johnson.

Byron listed how the 4×400 times improved during the outdoor season: “It went from 4:08 to 3:59 to 3:58 to 3:51.”

“Even though we got second, that second place almost meant more than the first place indoor, because no one expected us to have a chance to place that high in the 4×400,” he said.

While he thought the outdoor season did not match the quality of the indoor season, Byron did not think it was bad for Nansemond River.

“I just feel like with all the returning athletes, I’m excited,” he said. “There’s no other word to use when you have the kids that performed the way they performed this year, and they still have two or three more years left at the school. There’s just endless possibilities for how good this program can be in the near future.”

Nansemond River will head to Greensboro, N.C. for national competition this weekend in two relay events. Johnson will run in the freshman 400, and Rashid will compete in the discus and shot put.

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