NRHS girls claim state title

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Lady Warriors collectively did over the weekend what no previous girls’ outdoor track and field team had ever done for Nansemond River High School — they won a state championship.

After Friday’s events, the NR girls were disappointed to be in 11th place, but they had a fantastic Saturday to finish first out of 39 point-scoring teams, decisively topping runner-up Phoebus High School 103-66 at Harrisonburg High School.

“It’s one of those things where those girls started training back in September and going to Mount Trashmore and going to Ocean View Beach and going to (Five Star Track and Field Program facility) the Dungeon,” Nansemond River coach Justin Byron said of his team. “When it comes full circle like that, it makes all your sacrifices feel as if they meant something.”


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The girls won five separate events, and the Nansemond River boys won two.

For the girls, “When you look at the team, you’ve always got to look at (Kara) Lyles, (Zakiya) Rashid and (Brandeé) Johnson,” Byron said. “Those are really the three athletes you look to for your quality points.”

And they delivered.

Sophomore Brandeé Johnson produced personal records as she won the 200-meter dash in 23.64 seconds and the 300-meter hurdles in 43.39 seconds. She is now ranked 14th in the nation in the 200.

Junior Zakiya Rashid threw the shot 44-feet-1-inch, an outdoor personal record, to win the shot put.

Junior Kara Lyles won the 400-meter dash with a time of 55.74 seconds and was also part of the girls’ winning 4×400-meter relay team that turned in a season-best time of 3:53.50. The other members of the team included junior Candice James, freshman Kiara Howard and senior Mia McClain.

McClain was unable to attend much of the state meet because it conflicted with graduation, but special arrangements allowed her and other seniors to make it for some of Saturday’s events.

Byron said after a four-hour car ride, she arrived with no time to warm up as the 300 hurdles event was about to begin.

“She got in her lane with two minutes to spare,” he said, and she still performed well, finishing third, with a time of 45.62 seconds.

In the 400, Candice James was ranked 401st in the state overall last year and has moved up to 13th after finishing third (56.70 seconds) over the weekend.

Junior Kadeem Middleton won the boys’ 400 in 48.85 seconds for his first state title, as well as the school’s first for the boys’ program since the James Taylor era.

Senior Airrin Davis raced from graduation to Harrisonburg, got a PR in the 800-meter run (1:58.83 for seventh) before helping his team win the last race of the day, the 4×400 relay, in a time of 3:19.11. The relay also featured senior Malcolm Sheppard, sophomore Terrence Lambert and Middleton.

Nansemond River athletes will compete in a national competition this weekend at Byron’s alma mater, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C.

Following are the top Suffolk finishers at the Virginia High School League Group 4A state outdoor track and field championships in Harrisonburg this past weekend:

Girls’ 100-meter dash: 2nd-Brandeé Johnson (NR), 12.43

Girls’ 200-meter dash: 1st-Brandeé Johnson (NR), 23.64

Girls’ 400-meter dash: 1st-Kara Lyles (NR), 55.74

Girls’ 100-meter hurdles: 2nd-Zakiya Rashid (NR), 15.03

Girls’ 300-meter hurdles: 1st-Brandeé Johnson (NR), 43.39

Girls’ 4×100-meter relay: 2nd-NRHS ‘A’, 48.88 (Zakiya Rashid, Kiara Howard, Kiara Price, Candice James)

Girls’ 4×400-meter relay: 1st-NRHS ‘A’, 3:53.50 (Candice James, Mia McClain, Kiara Howard, Kara Lyles)

Girls’ 4×800-meter relay: 15th-NRHS ‘A’, 10:43.13 (Kara Dixon, Karah Foster, Casey Williams, Caroline Hubbard)

Girls’ long jump: 4th-Kara Lyles (NR), 17-11.50

Girls’ triple jump: 4th-Khadijah Clouden (L), 36-06.00

Girls’ shot put: 1st-Zakiya Rashid (NR), 44-01.00

Girls’ discus throw: 2nd-Hannah Hinson (KF), 122-06

Boys’ 400-meter dash: 1st-Kadeem Middleton (NR), 48.85

Boys’ 800-meter run: 7th-Airrin Davis (NR), 1:58.83

Boys’ 4×100-meter relay: 12th-LHS ‘A’, 44.03 (Ja’Len Baker, William Barnes, Jordan Stokley, JaJuan Walker)

Boys’ 4×400-meter relay: 1st-NRHS ‘A’, 3:19.11 (Airrin Davis, Terrence Lambert, Malcolm Sheppard, Kadeem Middleton)

Boys’ 4×800-meter relay: 11th-NRHS ‘A’, 8:19.07 (Airrin Davis, Nicholas Gill, Sydney Johnson, Kevin Tohak)