Nansemond River relay team wins state title
Published 10:24 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Nansemond River High School had the best local finishers, including a winning relay team, and King’s Fork and Lakeland also performed well at the 2013 Virginia High School League Group AAA State Indoor Track and Field Championships in Hampton during the weekend.
The girls’ 4×200-meter relay team from Nansemond River became the first relay team in school history to win a state championship, and it did so with a time of 1:41.87.
“Those four girls banded together since the beginning of the season, and they really wanted this 4×200, nobody more than Kieaira Middleton, the senior,” Warriors coach Justin Byron said. “That’s why she was the anchor leg, able to send her out with a bang. She’s been running track for four years — that was her first opportunity to get a state title.”
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“All year, it was like we were just putting pieces together, and today was the perfect opportunity for all the pieces to come together,” Byron said Saturday. “Mia McClain ran for her life in lane six.”
McClain, a junior, held the team in second, and sophomore Kara Lyles, in her first year running indoor track, did the same on the second leg.
“Brandee Johnson, a freshman, she caught someone on third leg, and then Kieaira Middleton got the baton in first place, and she brought it home,” Byron said.
The team won the Southeastern District title a couple of weeks earlier with a time of 1:44.20, third-best in the state. At the Eastern Region tourney the following week, the King’s Fork team won, claiming the best time in the state (1:43.84). On Saturday, the King’s Fork team of juniors Gabrielle Snipes and Roneka Spady and sophomores Brittany Dickens and Courtney Ricks finished fifth with a time of 1:44.55. The Nansemond River girls and Coach Byron expressed congratulations and gratitude to King’s Fork.
“Competition breeds excellence,” Byron said. “To have two challenging teams in one city, 10 minutes away from each other — King’s Fork and Nansemond River have the No. 1 and 3 flat-track times in the nation. To have a team that close where before the races, we still pray together, and then we go out there and battle and the girls hug each other and cry afterwards, that is probably our biggest advantage over anyone is that we have a team right next door to us that’s as talented as we are.”
“We were never discouraged by what happened,” King’s Fork head coach Kisha Ricks said. “Of course, we wanted to take it all, but we understand that wasn’t their day on Saturday.”
Nansemond River freshman Brandee Johnson established herself as a force to be reckoned with. She finished fifth in the 300-meter dash with a time of 39.97 seconds and also finished eighth in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.21 seconds. In more than one way, Johnson is reminiscent of a recently graduated NR state champion.
“When you’re breaking down their ability, their speed, and their build, we view her as baby Shakeela Saunders,” Byron said. “She’s very talented, good head on her shoulders.”
Snipes of King’s Fork also competed in the 55-meter dash and finished 10th with a time of 7.23 seconds. Additionally, she finished 12th in the long jump with a distance of 16’-11.25”, and senior Te’Shaibrah Myles from King’s Fork finished 16th in the pole vault.
The Bulldogs also had boys competing, with the 4×200-meter relay team taking 12th (1:33.21). The group included senior Noah Johnson and juniors Andrew Gould, Darrell Johnson and Patrick Boone.
Individually, Gould finished the 500-meter long sprint in 1:06.47, good for ninth. Noah Johnson placed 14th in the 300-meter dash, finishing the race in 35.95 seconds.
“I think my team did really well this weekend at the state meet,” Ricks said. “However, this is the first time many of them have ever been to the state meet, so it was a new experience for them. So, I’m glad they were able to compete and actually see what it was about, but it made them more hungry for outdoor (track season).”