Huntington’s Harris was last to know, but first (twice) to finish

HAVE A DAY: Huntington High School sophomore Demetria Harris took the state Class 4A girls track and field championships by storm Saturday, winning meet MVP honors after blowing away the 100 meter hurdles field.

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

Huntington’s Demetria Harris isn’t always the last to know, but it seemed that way on Saturday at the LHSAA State Track & Field Championships in Baton Rouge.

When she found out that she was the girls’ 4A MVP, it was her coach, LeRonn Burris. who told her, back at the team hotel.

Her mom was trying to call her, but her phone was dead. Her dad went and picked up the trophy and was looking around Bernie Moore Stadium for his daughter before finding out that she wasn’t there.

Another thing Harris didn’t know was that she’d broken the school record in the 100 hurdles, running 14.49. She didn’t find out until after she’d won the 100-meter dash as well, because those events are back-to-back.

So when she was able to catch her breath and leave the track to speak to Burris?…

“I told her, ‘You broke the record; you’re the new GOAT,’ ” Burris said.

Burris believes Davenport is the first Lady Raider to win the MVP of the state meet since the legendary Teresa Foster was a senior in 1991 and won four events. She set the Class 4A and the state composite long jump record of 20-5.

Captain Shreve assistant principal Marita Hunt was a freshman during Foster’s senior year in 1991. After that, Hunt won state long jump titles for Huntington for three consecutive years (1992-94) for the Lady Raiders, with a best of 18-10 1/4 in her junior year. She was the last Huntington athlete to win the event – until Saturday night.

The long jump runway at Bernie Moore was where Harris’ day started. Even though it was not one of her best days in the event, she still came away with a third-place finish (16-7). Her personal record in the event is 18-7 set at the District 1-4A Meet at North DeSoto earlier this year, making her the No.3 long jumper in Huntington history.

One thing Harris did know was who held the old hurdles record. It was Sonja White, who didn’t beat McDonough’s Alicia Armstrong (14.05) at the 1989 state meet, but did make the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s All-State team with a best time of 14.56.

“I looked at the record book last year when I was a freshman,” Harris said. “I saw her name and wondered how long it would take to break the record. I didn’t expect it would be this soon. I knew I had the potential to do it, just not my sophomore year.”

Making it even more special for Harris was the fact that her teammate, Catina Davenport, was on the podium with her. Davenport finished third in the race.

But Harris didn’t have much time to celebrate with Davenport. She had to go check in for the 100 meters.

“I was just trying to catch my breath and think about my technique,” Harris said.

In particular, she was concentrating on getting a fast start out of the blocks, and once she was through with her drive phase, staying tall.

It worked. After winning her first state championship in the 100 hurdles, she won her second gold medal in the 100 (12.11) about 15 minutes later.

Once she was back on the top spot on the podium, she recognized another familiar face, a summer track teammate – Northside’s Quincy Simon, a Lafayette resident who finished second (12.32).

“It felt great to know that you had someone, who you know, to push you, and then talk it up and hug after the race,” Harris said.

Harris wasn’t done yet. She returned at the end of the meet to finish third in the 200 (25.08) with a personal record. Her pal Simon won with a 24.73.

Harris will begin preparing for the summer track and field campaign with her River Cities Track Club, along with Simon, and hope that Davenport will be able to join them as well.