T.C. Williams sprinter Noah Lyles wanted a state qualifying time at Saturday’s PR Holiday Invitational.
He got more than he hoped for — unexpectedly. The sophomore won the 55-meter dash, qualified for the Virginia state meet and set a meet record with a blistering time of 6.40 seconds.
Admittedly a slow starter when it comes to the track season, Lyles was pleased to get off to a solid start at one of the area’s first major invitationals of the indoor season.
“Truthfully, I wasn’t trying to do anything that spectacular,” Lyles said. “I was just trying to win the race and qualify for states like my coach told me to.”
Lyles also won the 300-meter race with a time 34.24 seconds, beating Western Tech’s Carrington Akosa (35.06), Forest Park’s Ricky Morgan (35.28) and Wilson’s Acey Calhoun (35.70).
Lyles took some time off in the fall after spending his summer competing in Ukraine as a member of the United States team at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
“In the fall, I took a break and rested my legs,” Lyles said. “I came back in and did some regular conditioning, some hard workouts.”
Bishop McNamara’s Deja Bell won the girls’ 55 hurdles with a state-qualifying time of 8.38 seconds. She came from behind to win a close race against Wilson’s Deonna Diggs (8.42).
Bell, who called last season a “struggle year” for her, said it was good to get a win this early in the season.
“It puts me on a good path because it shows my improvement from last year,” Bell said. “It shows my coach and I what we need to do to get better.”
McKinley Tech’s Moses Kennedy set a personal record in the boys’ 55 hurdles by winning the event with a state-qualifying time of 7.79 seconds. Gonzaga’s Maurice Holmes (7.86) and West Springfield’s John Seals (7.86) rounded out the top three.
“It’s a good feeling to show that I’m improving with each race that I’m doing,” Kennedy said. “Eventually, I’ll be able to qualify for nationals, hopefully by the season’s end.”
Seals put on a show in the high jump, clearing 6 feet 9 inches to win the event. He came close to clearing 6 feet 10 1/4 inches on his second attempt, which would have been a school record. But his calf made contact with the bar and knocked it off.
“Even though I didn’t clear it, it’s encouraging,” Seals said.
One of the most exciting races Saturday afternoon came during the boys’ 4x200 relay. With Largo leading before the third leg, Forest Park’s Mustaqeem Williams turned on the jets to give the Bruins a lead.
Largo’s Joshua Washington, running as the anchor in the 4x200 relay for the first time in his high school track career, took the baton and ran the Lions to a victory in what was the event’s first heat.
“I just wanted to run for my team,” Washington said. “They put me at the anchor so obviously they trusted me.”
Largo (1:33.85) finished second overall to Archbishop Carroll (1:33.26), which posted a better time in the relay’s third heat. The invitational did not feature a finals race.
Forest Park’s Williams, the 2012-13 All-Met boys’ Athlete of the Year, won the boys’ long jump with an impressive leap of 24 feet, 6 inches. Riverdale Baptist’s Taylor Woods won the girls’ long jump at 18 feet.
Dunbar placed two runners at the top of the girls’ 300-meter race. London Freeland (40.63) won with teammate Mecca Brown (40.70) finishing behind her.
Woodbridge’s Jewel Christian won the girls’ 500-meter race with a time of 1:15.30.
Riverdale Baptist’s Rashad Manning claimed first-place in the boys’ shot put competition with a throw of 59 feet 1/2 inch.