By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports
Four years ago, the fastest prep female sprinter in Caddo Parish raced against the fastest female sprinter in Bossier Parish in an obscure event at Northwood High School called the Meet of Champions. For the small crowd assembled to watch the action, it seemed like the beginning of something special.
Fast forward four years and Airline’s Brianna Taylor and Byrd’s Nicole Flowers are still among the fastest sprinters in not only Northwest Louisiana—but in all of Louisiana.
They proved as much last year at the LHSAA State Indoor meet when they made it through the qualifying rounds to make their way to the finals of the 60 meters. They were joined in the finals by two seniors — Captain Shreve’s Karrington Stewart and BTW’s Chyler Turner — to give Caddo-Bossier four of the eight spots among Louisiana’s fastest girls high school athletes.
Taylor, who ran a personal record of 7.77, finished second to John Curtis’ Raven Nunnery. Flowers finished fifth with a 7.87, just two hundredths off her personal best.
Last spring, they raced in the 100 meters through district and regional races to qualify for the LHSAA’s State Outdoor Meet. Taylor finished fifth (11.89) and Beard came in eighth (12.01).
As their senior year comes out of the blocks, the two seem poised for a few more epic efforts, but it’s the camaraderie formed between the two, who both run summer track for the River Cities Track Club, which has meant more than the outcome of any race.
“It’s a really good dynamic that we have,” Flowers said. “We talk about workouts and encourage each other. I think we both feed off each other.”
“It started off rocky,” Taylor said, “but once we go to know each other, she helped me to learn how to have fun with the sport and she really has pushed me. I’m extremely grateful to have our friendship.”
Flowers, who has had to overcome numerous injuries and losing a training year as a sophomore due to Covid, knows she has work to do in order make those championship sprint finals, the first of which will come at the 2022 LHSAA State Indoor Meet next month.
“I’m working on speed endurance,” Flowers said, “and holding the speed throughout the end of the race. Also, my start needs to improve.”
Both were in action last weekend at the LSU Indoor Qualifying Meet in Baton Rouge.
Taylor finished fifth in the 60 meters with a 7.88. Flowers finished 10th in 8.06.
While Taylor’s times in the 60 meters haven’t quite reached the PR levels of a year ago, she has seen dramatic improvement in her 400 performances, where she lowered her personal best to a 1:00.20 on Saturday, finishing fourth overall.
Now the veterans of Caddo-Bossier’s sprint corps, they were joined by Huntington sophomore Demetria Harris, who finished second in the 60 meters with a time of 7.81 and also finished second in the 60 meter hurdles (8.85).
Dutchtown’s Arian Linton won the 60 meters with a 7.53. Scotlandville’s Makeriah Harris won the 60 hurdles in 8.79.
Caddo-Bossier was equally represented in the boys 60 meters. Captain Shreve’s Marquez Stevenson (6.97), Parkway’s Jaylan White (6.99), and Haughton’s John Ecot (7.10) all made the finals of the boys 60 meters. Stevenson finished second to Edna Karr’s Ra’hji Dennis (6.86). White finished fourth while Ecot finished seventh.
Byrd distance runner Trent Wells, running in his third different state in as many weeks, finished third in the 1600 (4:27.83) before getting edged in the 3200 by Benton’s Mason Haley (9:48.23), by less than half a second. Haley also finished sixth in the 1600 with a 4:34.21.
Byrd sophomore Hudson Roberts finished third in the 3200 meters (11:51.04) breaking the school record, set by Bryn Peters in 2021, by three seconds.
Photo: by CAITLYN BYRD