Haughton’s Micah Larkins and Lakeside’s Chris Lewis won’t race against each other in their final high school track meet at this week’s state track championships at LSU.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be competition between the two friends.
Both sprinters have posted nationally-ranked times — Lewis in two events — and they’ll be taking note of each other’s times.
“We have a strong bond, I guess it’s a track bond,” Larkins said. “I’ve been racing against him since freshman year, and he’s a great guy and good to talk to.
“It’s scary to have two of the top sprinters in the nation right here. It’s a great feeling to have somebody right there to push each other — we make each other better.”
Larkins holds Louisiana’s best 100 meter time this season (10.31, which ranks fourth nationally) while Lewis is second in the state with a 10.39 (21st nationally).
Lewis ran the state’s best 200 meter time (20.95, which ranks 9th nationally) at Larkins’ home Haughton Invitational. Larkins won’t run the 200 at state, but his 21.44 this season is the fourth-fastest in Louisiana.
Lewis will run in the Class 2A meet Friday while Larkins will compete Saturday in the Class 5A meet.
Lewis said the pair’s friendship started on the track as freshman, but grew deeper at the indoor state meet this season – where Lewis won the 60 meter.
“We would see each other at the meets and tell each other good job,” Lewis said. “We got close before the 60 meter this season, and we would sit down and talk about things.
“(The competition) is so intense. Every day I’m practicing, I’m just thinking, ‘Man, somebody is working harder than me. Somebody is a little bit faster than me.’ I see the fast times, and I think, ‘There goes that somebody.'”
Lewis ran a lot of regional meets in places like Mobile, Ala., early in the season, and he said he heard about Larkins’ 10.31 on April 4th at the Northwood Invitational, which broke Joe Delaney’s school record at Haughton.
“I had to work even harder to beat him,” Lewis said.
He got that chance at the Haughton Invitational, beating a slightly injured Larkins (hamstring tweak) by nearly three tenths of a second with a 10.44.
“It means a lot,” Lewis said after the race. “I hadn’t been running in local meets because I’ve been on the road, and he’s been sweeping ’em.
“When I got the news that (he ran a 10.31), and I was like, ‘Man, where did he come from with that?’ But I really enjoyed this race.”
Larkins said the favorite mode of communicating times — and yes, even a little trash talk — is through a Facebook message.
Haughton coach Jason Brotherton explained that Larkins and Lewis are different types of sprinters.
“Chris has an incredible burst from the start, and Micah is more of a closer,” Brotherton said. “Micah almost has to jump the gun to not fall too far behind Chris in the 100.”
But Lewis has honed in on his finishes this season, the main factor in his improved 200 times.
“I’ve been battling that since I’ve started,” Lewis said. “I’ve had training partners start 20 meters ahead of me, and I have to go catch them.
“I love the 200, and it’s starting to become my favorite race,” Lewis added, calling the 100 ‘his baby’ in the same breath. “Working on the 200 has definitely helped me big time in holding leads.”
While Lewis may not always have a competitor in his back pocket, Larkins doesn’t have to look further than his own team.
Freshman Josh Lister is already one of state’s best sprinters in his own right, owning the state’s fifth-best 100 time at 10.57.
“It’s motivation and competition,” Larkins said. “Nobody wants to lose to a freshman, but Josh is probably one of the best sprinters in the state. I love having him on my team.”
Both Lewis and Larkins are favorites to win at least one state title in their respective classes, but there might some Facebook chatter as to who ran a faster time as they both clutch their medals.