Before leaving for the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics early last week, recent Belleville East graduate Miya Dorsey could count on one hand the number of times she had competed in the 400 meter hurdles.
Now it’s the 18-year-old Dorsey’s race of choice.
Competing on Sunday against many of the top high school 400 meter hurdlers in the nation at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Dorsey had the look of a veteran as she came from behind to win the national title in the girls 17- to 18-year-old division.
“I’ve probably competed in the 400 meter hurdles five or six times now and actually it’s probably my best race,” she said. “I’ve run the 300 meter hurdles for a long time and while I was a little nervous when I ran (the 400 meter hurdles) the first time, it’s only 100 meters longer. The 400 meter hurdles is an event where if you make a mistake, you still have a chance to catch up. I like that part of it.”
One of the top athletes in Belleville East track and field history, Dorsey’s title is her second in a little over two months. In May, Dorsey capped a memorable senior season by winning the 300 meter hurdles state title at the Class 3A State Track Meet in Charleston in May.
Dorsey — who posted personal records in both the preliminary round and in the semifinals on Saturday — finished with a time in the finals of 59.65 seconds. She nipped McKenzie Frank of the North Texas Cheetahs Track Club who finished in 59.94 seconds.
“What went through my mind when I crossed the finish line? Relief and happiness. The first thing I did though was I thanked God,’’ Dorsey said “The state title and Junior Olympic title ... they both mean a lot. The difference is that when you run in the state meet, you are running against a lot of fast athletes. When you run in these types of meets, you are running against a lot of elite athletes.’’
Also one of the top 100 meter hurdle runners in the state this past year, Dorsey was the ideal student-athlete while at Belleville East. An honor roll student in the classroom, Dorsey was a major factor in helping make Belleville East one of the top girls track programs in the St. Louis area.
“Miya is just an outstanding young lady who is total team player. This year I can honestly say that she worked harder then any hurdler I have ever been around,’’ Lancers coach Bryan Mitchell said. “I feel honored to know that maybe I’ve played a small part in her development as an athlete. The sky is the limit for Miya.’’
Dorsey said after running well enough to make the semifinals and finals in Jacksonville that she was focused and ready for the finals.
“I was nervous heading into the prelims and then again in the semifinals, but for the final I was fine. The nerves went away,’’ Dorsey said. “I just felt like this was my last race before starting college and so there was nothing to hold back for. I just decided to go for it.
“When I got to the starting line I did what I always do. I recite my favorite (Biblical) passage which is Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I remember I got off to a good start and had the lead for the first 200 meters. I got passed on the curve, but I was able to take the lead again coming down the final few meters.’’
Dorsey will begin college at Southeast Missouri State later this month where she will major in pre-veterinary medicine. She will also compete in the 100 and 400 meter hurdles and could also run in the open 400 meters. Dorsey chose SEMO over Northern Illinois and Chicago State.
“I liked the coaches and I liked the school. Plus it had a major in what I want to study,’’ Dorsey said. “My goal is to be in the Olympics someday. I may try for 2016, but if that doesn’t work out, I can try in 2020.’’
Session places fourth
In addition to the 400 meter national championship won by Dorsey, another Belleville East track standout, William Session placed fourth in the 110 meter hurdles in the boys 17- to 18-year-old division. The Class 3A state champion in the 300 meters spring, Session finished in a time of 14.11 seconds. Session will be a senior at Belleville East this year
Brown wins AAU titles
Alton senior LaJarvia Brown won the AAU Junior Olympics long jump and triple jump championships in the girls 17-18-year old division in Norfolk, Va., last week.
Brown won the long jump with a personal best 19 feet 6 1/4 inch jump then took the triple jump with a leap of 39 feet 11 1/2 inches. Brown is a two-time state champion in the triple jump and won the long jump state crown this spring,
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.