In a 20-minute span, Micaiah Harris shocked the crowd at Boo Williams, as he won both the 6A 55-meter hurdles (7.37) and open 55 (6.41). While the races totaled only 110 meters, the distance he has traveled, away from a shadow cast over him, has been much greater.
Last year, Harris was a bonafide track star, with times of 6.40 in the 55, and 33.80 in the 300. Yet, his accomplishments were sometimes lost among those of the Lyles brothers from T.C. Williams and Grant Holloway, from nearby Grassfield High.
It could have been a problem for some runners, but Harris bided his time.
"I'd always been in the shadow because of (them)," said Harris, just minutes after his second win of Saturday.
But the Bruin senior pushed forward, and last summer, began to shine his own light. At the 6A outdoor meet, he won both the 100 (10.66) and 200 (21.05), in a pair of races that did not feature Noah Lyles, who was on the sidelines, nor Josephus, who was hurt, or even Holloway, who opted to do the hurdles and jumps.
With the threesome out of the picture this year, Harris has finally been give the chance to stand out on his own. He also won the 300 on Sunday for a third gold medal, and his 33.22 clocking at the MileStat Virginia Showcase is the #2 time in the US, behind only Florida's wunderkind Tyrese Cooper.
But Harris feels there is room for improvement.
"I'm not so happy with my high hurdle and 55 times," says the senior matter-of-factly. "I am happy with my 300." He hopes to nudge his time under 33.00 soon.
Fortunately, he will have the chance, but not this year. Harris recently signed to compete at the University of Texas, with a men's squad that won its eighth Big 12 title over the weekend. He aims to major in kinesiology or sports medicine.
"It's all about how the body works, which is a good profession to help me," said the self-aware soon-to-be Longhorn. "And it keeps me doing what I love."
Asked about the reason why he chose to travel all the way to Austin to continue his studies, Harris was also well thought out. "I wanted to be away from home, but it's also a good school with a strong academic program. And they have a lot of Olympians coming from there."
One example is Byron Robinson, a Longhorn senior who also graduated from Western Branch (Class of 2013). Robinson made the Rio team on the strength of his bronze medal finish in the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials. He finished ninth at Rio.
Harris also has Olympic aspirations, and has set his goal for the 2020 Games. He got his first taste of international competition in 2015 at the USATF World Youth Track and Field trials in Illinois.
For the first time in his young career, Harris was stunned when he arrived at the meet. "I couldn't believe that I was seeded last in the 100 and second to last in the 200. Nobody knew who I was." It was for that reason that finishing first (100) and third (200) was extra special." From there, it was off to the IAAF World Youth Championships in Colombia.
Harris also was able to compete in the IAAF World U-20 Championships last year in Bydgoszcz. It was there that one of his teammates was none other than Noah Lyles, an old nemesis and one of the shadows that dogged him.
"I'm close with the Lyles brothers," said Harris. "We got to know each other better at the world meet, and they are cool to talk with every now and then."
Harris and his teammates will be competing in the New Balance Nationals this weekend. Harris will run the 4x200, 4x400, and shuttle hurdle relay. "I'm hoping to sneak in the 200," he freely admits.
For this spring, Harris' best 100 (10.66) and 200 (20.77) times are in jeopardy. "I don't want to give an exact prediction, but I'd like to be somewhere around 10.3 and 20.3."
Harris should have the opportunity for continued improvement with the better facilities at the University of Texas. Western Branch practices on a crumbling asphalt track, and is renowned at the national level for being a team that does wonders for its athletes with their meager facilities.
"We live with what we have," said Harris. "I'd like to do well so that I can come back (to Western Branch) and help with the program, with the track or the weight room. I don't want people to not have the same things that we're missing." He is eager to see more support for his team from the school and the City of Chesapeake.
Western Branch won the 6A boys title with 81.5 points, 43 more than runner-up Lake Braddock.