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Comets send eight to state indoor meet

Eight members of the Halifax County High School indoor track team hope to give one final effort for a top finish at the VHSL State Indoor Track & Field Championships today and Saturday at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton.

Youth abounds on the state squad, which includes three seniors, one junior and four sophomores.

Devan Richardson, a junior, will compete in three events at the state meet, the 55-meter dash, 200-meter relay and the long jump.

Roland Brandon qualified for the state meet after a sixth-place finish in the triple jump at the regional meet, and a third-place finish as a member of the 4x200-meter relay team.

Jamal Crews and Dominique Lassiter, the other two members of the 4x200 relay team, qualified for the state meet in that event, as did Shalar Charleton with a sixth-place finish in the shot put.

Tyrika Lee, a sophomore qualified for the state meet by tying for fifth-place in the 300-meter dash at the regional meet.

William Brooks will travel to the state meet as an alternate for the boys 200-meter relay team.

Richardson, a junior competing at his second state meet, does not think the overall youth of the state qualifiers from Halifax County will hinder their performance this weekend.

“I’m telling them to keep calm, the first time I went I was nervous,” said Richardson.

“All the scouts and coaches from different colleges, and it kind of shook me.

“Now, I’ll go to this meet, do what I need to do and qualify for nationals.”

His advice to his teammates is to stay focused and push hard, no matter whether they’re leading or not.

“I think we should do well at the states, and I’m ready for it, I’ve been dreaming about the states,” Richardson pointed out.”

This is the first state indoor track meet for senior Jamal Crews, who is looking forward to the opportunity to compete with the best the state has to offer.

“I’m excited,” said Crews.  I know there’ll be a lot of competition, but we’ll just focus the entire time.

“I think we have a good chance at the state, and I think we’ll do well.”

Fellow senior Juan Leon also is confident of a good showing.

Leon, who blew away the competition while running injured in the opening leg of the 4x400-meter relay team at the district meet, is looking for a good result at the state level.

It’s also Leon’s first appearance at the state meet after four years of high school track.

“It feels great,” said Leon, who admitted to being a little nervous heading into the weekend.

“It comes with the level of competition,” he added.

“It’s like competing in the regional, once you get there, you’ll be alright.”

The district championship is serving as motivation for the team, he added.

Sophomore Tyrika Lee, who also will compete at the state level for the first time, has run track in some fashion or another since kindergarten.

A solid regional performance in the 300-meter dash gave her a spot in the state meet, when Lee turned a better time than at the district meet.

“In all my other events, I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I could, and when they told me I made states, I think I cried,” said Lee.

“It feels great,” added Lee, who hopes to improve her time even more at the state meet after workouts with members of the boys indoor track team.

“When I run with faster people, I get faster,” she noted.

Lassiter, a senior, said he’s very excited to compete at the state level for the first time.

“I’ve worked hard for this opportunity, and this is almost indescribable, I’ve been waiting for this since middle school,” he said.

“High school is a whole other level.  We work as a team and it’s not an individual thing.”

His relay team needs to take it lap by lap and practice on getting their handoffs in order to compete with the state’s best.

“Practice hard and work hard, that’s all I can say,” added Lassiter.

Brandon, a sophomore, is also competing at his first state meet.

“It’s exciting to me to make it and to be one of the only sophomores to do triple jump at the states,” said Brandon.

Competing with older athletes gives him the confidence to do even better, he added.

“It lets me know I’m doing something right and gives me confidence to do even better,” Brandon pointed out. 

Charleton, the district shot put champion, is still riding the momentum from that effort to the state meet.

“The competition will be good, but that’s my goal, to make it to states, and my heart is at the states, so I’ll try my best,” said Charleton.

Practice every day, no slacking off and no playing around were keys to his making the state meet in his sophomore year.

“Towards the end of the year I was getting better and after making it to regionals I got excited about doing even better,” Charleton pointed out.

“All I can say is I’ll try my hardest.”