T.C. Williams’s Noah Lyles wins his heat in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials for the second straight day to earn a spot in the finals. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Beginning last August, the team surrounding sprinter Noah Lyles met every three months. The recent T.C. Williams graduate and his brother sat down with coaches, their physiotherapist, chiropractor and family members to map out a detailed training regimen, competition schedule, travel plans and fundraising with everything pointed toward one goal: the Rio Olympics.

Nevermind that no high school sprinter has made the U.S. Olympic team since 1976. Lyles and his family never had any doubts about what was possible.

“None of this is by accident,” said his brother Josephus, a talented 400-meter runner.

In many regards, Lyles has made the most implausible, challenging part look like the easiest. On Friday, he again walked onto the track at Hayward Field and again sent the crowd into a speed-induced tizzy. Just as he had one night earlier in the qualifying round of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, Lyles won his heat in the 200-meter semifinals against older, more accomplished runners. His time of 20.26 was sixth best in the semis and earned him a spot in Saturday’s final.

Afterward, he didn’t even try to hide the enthusiasm and confidence that carried him across the line and dashed the Olympic hopes of so many others.

“I love putting on shows,” he said. “Got competition — it’s an even better show. Everybody likes to watch something cool. We definitely trying to make something cool happen.”

Track enthusiasts have been impressed by what Lyles and 18-year old Michael Norman, a high school student from Murrieta, Calif., have managed to do here. Norman won his heat Friday, edging out Justin Gatlin, who qualified for his third Olympics earlier this week, at the finish line.

Lyles looks as old and as capable as any runner in the field when the gun fires, but his mother, Keisha Caine, knows better. All the planning in the world doesn’t change the fact that Lyles is still a teenager. They have spent a year plotting for this, which means Caine has spent a year doing an elaborate juggling act. Last month, Lyles left his passport on an airplane, and it was presumed missing until the family recently managed to track it down. And just this week Lyles left for the track but forgot his T.C. Williams jersey back at the hotel.

“He’s still a kid,” Caine said with a laugh. “So I have to ask all the questions every day: Do you have your jersey? You have your spikes? You got an umbrella in case it rains? Everything.”

Lyles doesn’t sweat the small things. Or the big ones apparently. He woke up Friday and had an early-morning phone call with the family’s sports psychologist, Diana McNab, to prep for the biggest race of his life.

“She’s always reminding me, take it one day at time,” Lyles said. “We’re not focused on the other races. We’re just focused on this day. What are we going to do this day that’s going to get us the win? She keeps reminding me that I’m the best.”

He carried that attitude to the track. Before Friday’s race, he spotted his family near the start of the 200 and locked eyes with his mom.

“I’m pretty sure we’re way more anxious and stressed than he is,” says Josephus, who also qualified for these trials but was sidelined with an injury and unable to compete. “There’s so much going through our heads. But you can see, he’s calm on the line.”

Lyles wasn’t worried about what other runners were in the heat or that Walter Dix, who won two bronze medals at the 2008 Games, was just a couple of lanes away.

“When you get on the line, you don’t see the time or the name,” his brother explained. “You just see competition, and he’s ready to beat everyone.”

It didn’t hurt that in the first 200 heat, Norman had heated up the crowd to a rolling boil. The California teen won his race with a time of 20.21, edging Gatlin by just 0.02 seconds.

“I saw him going, and I was like, ‘Oh dang, he right outside Gatlin. Oh snap, just passed Gatlin. All right, go. Whoo! I gotta get out there,’ ” Lyles said later.

When the gun fired on his race, Lyles started strong and finished stronger, beating Georgia sprinter Kendal Williams by 0.05 seconds and putting two high school runners in Saturday’s final. Lyles and Norman have gone head-to-head just once. Lyles won the junior championships last June, running 20.18 and topping Norman by 0.06.

LaShawn Merritt’s 19.74 was Friday’s top semifinal time, and he will join Gatlin and Tyson Gay as past Olympians in the final who will try to fend off the prep stars.

“It just takes fortitude. It takes bravery,” Gatlin said of the young sprinters. “Instead of looking at us like the Justin Gatlin, the LaShawn Merritt, they look at us as competitors. They go out there racing their race and doing what they have to do. They’re running times they’d run if they were running anywhere else, but it’s able to hold up against professional athletes.”

Both Lyles brothers are committed to run next season for the University of Florida, but Noah doesn’t rule out exploring his options. Told that Loudoun Valley’s Drew Hunter decided to forgo a college career and signed a 10-year deal with Adidas on Friday, Lyles said: “If it happens and the money’s right and everything lines up, that’s definitely something I’ll consider.”

That could hinge on what happens Saturday. The race will be decided in 20 seconds, and in a flash Lyles and his family will know whether they will be spending August back home in Alexandria or in Rio de Janeiro. They have been planning for the latter since they watched the Opening Ceremonies of the London Games together four years ago and began charting their course.

“I definitely thought it was realistic, as long as we came in with the right plan,” Lyles said. “We been trying to for four years, trying to make sure we put together the right team. I think we definitely have the right team, right facilities, right recovery plan. It’s definitely paying off. That’s two rounds won, one more round to go.”


Tonight, p.m., Ch.