NRHS girls win conference track

Published 10:39 pm Friday, February 14, 2014

Nansemond River High School’s girls’ indoor track and field team topped Phoebus High School 174-133 on Thursday to win the Ironclad Conference championships in Hampton.

The Nansemond River boys narrowly lost to Phoebus, 158-151, and all three Suffolk public schools contributed to the city’s haul of 15 conference titles in events, as well as a bevy of qualifiers for next week’s regional championships.

Nansemond River High School senior Mia McClain hands off to sophomore Brandee Johnson in a relay event during Thursday’s Ironclad Conference indoor track and field championships.

Nansemond River High School senior Mia McClain hands off to sophomore Brandee Johnson in a relay event during Thursday’s Ironclad Conference indoor track and field championships.

“They just really wanted it,” coach Justin Byron said about the NR girls.

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In a team meeting before the championships, he broke precedent by mentioning the name of an opposing athlete — Phoebus junior Carolyn Brown. He likened her ability and impact to a superstar basketball player on the Miami Heat.

“We’re going to up against LeBron James, so we don’t have a lot of room for error,” he told his girls.

True to form, Brown put up 49 points based on her placement in multiple events. But Nansemond River’s Brandee Johnson, Zakiya Rashid, Kara Lyles and Mia McClain responded.

“They all scored in four individual events,” Byron said. “That’s a great start for any program.”

Some of them were first-place finishers, including Johnson in the 300-meter dash and triple jump, Rashid in the shot put and Lyles in the 500-meter dash.

Between its male and female athletes, Nansemond River won 11 events.

“We had a lot of athletes step up,” Byron said.

He said chief among those for the NR girls was Casey Williams, a freshman, who won the 3,200-meter run. He also cited Kara Dixon, who placed second and fourth in the 3,200 meters and the 1,000-meter run, respectively.

The top six finishers in each event earned points toward their team.

Candice James was not even ranked in the 500-meter dash, but she placed fifth, and Kiara Howard was not scheduled to score in the 55-meter dash, but she did by placing sixth.

Shenique Brown and Kiara Price grabbed valuable points by finishing fifth and sixth in the shot put. In the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, Caroline Hubbard placed sixth and fifth, while Courtney James took fourth in the 3,200 meters.

“We dominated the conference in the distance,” Byron said. “The distance program was focused, and they were ready to win.”

Airrin Davis took first in the 1,000-meter run followed by Benjamin Littlejohn in second and Darius Smith in fourth. Kevin Tohak, Littlejohn and Addison Hagberg finished 1-2-3 in the 1,600, and Hagberg, Nicholas Gill and Tohak went 1-2-3 in the 3,200.

Lakeland High School’s boys’ and girls’ teams both took third out of six schools. Combined, Lakeland’s squads produced three conference titles.

The 4×800-meter relay team, featuring Alexis and Jamee Albright, Alexus Copeland and Kristen Vick, took first, Ja’Len Baker won the 300-meter dash and Antonio Boone won the triple jump.

King’s Fork High School coach Ruchelle Ricks said the days off due to the snow took a toll on her athletes on Thursday, but “for the most part, they did pretty well.” The girls finished fourth and the boys finished fifth.

Gabrielle Snipes, Courtney Ricks, Roneka Spady and Danielle Hill produced King’s Fork’s lone conference title by winning the 4×200-meter relay.

The Region 4A South indoor track and field championships take place next Wednesday and Thursday at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.