Driven to compete, Davenport shines for hurting Huntington

DESPITE THE PAIN: Catina Davenport’s performance for Huntington in Southwood’s Cowboy Relays was extraordinary.

By JERRY BYRD JR., Shreveport-Bossier Journal Sports

Huntington’s Catina Davenport was on her lunch shift at school last Thursday when she learned that her “brother” Devin Myers, a starter on the Raiders’ state playoff basketball team, had been shot and killed in his own front yard.

Text messages from friends and Myers family members started coming in, almost simultaneously. The horrific news began to spread on Raspberry Lane and distraught teenagers began consoling each other and allowing emotions to run their course.

“It was depressing,” Davenport said. “It was heartbreaking. It’s something nobody wants to have to go through.”

After school, Huntington’s head track coach LeRonn Burris held a team meeting.

“I told the team what had happened earlier in the day,” Burris said. “We talked. We cried. I told them that they didn’t have compete in the meet if they didn’t want to.”

The Huntington track team was scheduled to open the season that afternoon at Southwood’s Cowboy Relays, hosted in Lee Hedges Stadium.

“At that moment, I was leaning toward not competing when coach gave us that option,” Davenport said. “But then I thought about it. I thought that (Devin) wouldn’t want me not to compete. He made my decision for me.”

Davenport has competed in her share of track meets over the past four years. Before the junior enrolled at Huntington, she was a part of the track and field team at Walnut Hill Middle School.

Despite her experience in the sport, competing under the circumstances Thursday was different; as she began to go through her normal routine, she sensed an emotion she had never experienced at a meet before.

“I was doing everything out of aggression,” Davenport said. “I was mad and confused. I was still processing what had taken place.”

She used those emotions in the triple jump, where she won with an effort of 33-5.

Davenport had cried when she first learned the news at lunch. She had cried in the team meeting when Coach Burris addressed the situation, and she cried again at the Cowboy Relays after competing in her first event.

Somehow, some way, Davenport soldiered forward. Her last event of the evening was the 300 hurdles, one of the most taxing events of any meet.

“As far as the race goes,” Davenport said, “I really wasn’t up to doing it, but I used it as my outlet.”

Once again, she tapped into her feelings of confusion, and grief, and anger, and funneled those emotions into the race. Davenport won with a time of 49.54, seven seconds faster than teammate Zaniya Broadway, who finished second in 56.91.

Burris notified Davenport she had run a personal record time.

When the meet was completed, the Huntington Lady Raiders, thanks to Davenport and others, were the champions of the Cowboy Relays with 127 points. Captain Shreve finished second with 118 points.

“I’m super proud of them,” Burris said. “We weren’t really going there to win. We only had a few girls. The camaraderie they displayed on that day, the way they treated each other, and cared for each other…they should treat their teammates like that every day.”

Davenport shared those sentiments.

“I am extremely proud of my teammates,” Davenport said. “To do what they did, to stay focused, to remain strong, they left it on the track.”

Unfortunately, there will be more tears shed by Davenport and her fellow Raiders as they remember Myers, who was a caring, dedicated and loving classmate in her web design and English III classes. And Davenport will have more difficult days and hurdles to overcome – both on and off the track – as she grieves the loss of her friend.