Not many high school track and field athletes have the chops to be competitive in multiple events.
But for Byrd’s Caroline Campbell and Morgan White, multitasking in practice and meets is just part of their daily routine.
White is one of Louisiana’s best long jumpers and sprinters, while Campbell is an elite hurdler who lends her speed to the Lady Yellow Jackets relay teams.
The pair head into Saturday’s outdoor state track meet at LSU with championship hopes in their individual events.
“It is rare, and we’re maxing them out with four events in every meet,” said Byrd coach Juan Plaza after his team won the District 1-5A meet. “We’re asking a lot of them, and they are very willing and deliver every week.
“You also have to take practice into consideration. They take a beating in meets, and you have to modify their workouts in practice. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have any legs.”
White has the state’s best long jump mark at 18-feet, 6.5 inches and once had the state’s best 200 meter time. The junior sits at No. 16 in the 200 now (25.20), according to the website la.milesplit.com, and could score points in that event and the 100 in Class 5A along with being the favorite in the long jump.
White has seven events in her repertoire, and she will also run the 4X200 at state with teammates Kyah Loyd, Jocelyn Walker and Campbell.
“You have to stay dedicated and do your best in practice,” White said when asked the secret to excelling in the field and on the track. “Whatever I’m doing that week, you always have to be prepared.
“Jumping is its own thing, but the (track) events do have some carryover because of how much speed I have. Me being fast already helps me jump farther, and I got my jumping ability from basketball.”
White’s been running track since the seventh grade, but she seriously honed in on the long jump just last summer. Her mark is the 111th-best in the nation.
For Campbell, the hurdles weren’t a natural fit at first.
But in just the senior’s second season of focusing on hurdles, she’s posted the second-best times in Louisiana in the 100 hurdles (14.63) and the 300 hurdles (45.09). She’s also contributing to the 4X200 and 4X400 relay teams. Others on the 4X4 include Walker, Loyd and Ja’Nesha Strong.
“There’s a lot of technique, and you have to have good form,” Campbell said. “The only way to get better at hurdling is to just hurdle more.
“You have to master it by starting really slow, and I’m slowly getting there.”
Nationally, Campbell ranks 178th in the 100 and 250th in the 300.
Campbell isn’t exactly a track veteran, being persuaded to join the team after soccer teammates noticed her speed on the pitch during her freshman season.
Campbell joined the team as a sophomore, and she dabbled in hurdles before taking the event seriously in the middle of her junior season.
“There’s more potential to run slow in the hurdles because it’s so technical,” said Plaza, who is in his second season at Byrd after coaching Calvary. “You usually progress more slowly in hurdles than other events.
“A year ago, (Caroline) didn’t want to fool with it. I think she had a bad experience as a sophomore and hit one and crashed. She finally bought in, and we see what’s happened now.”
Plaza said Campbell has decreased her air time over the hurdles, which allowed her to take more advantage of her speed.
For White, acceleration is the key to her sprints.
“She’s a very strong and powerful sprinter,” Plaza said of the compact White. “She’s very explosive, has incredible bursts and can separate quickly and hold that gap until the end of the race.
“Her strongest point is her mental toughness. She’s a competitor, and in her mind, she’s not going to lose.”
White and Campbell lean on each other as versatile athletes, discussing how to excel in different types of races.
“We talk about it a lot,” White said. “Our field events have picked up a lot, and we’re winning meets.”
Added Campbell, “I definitely look up to Morgan a lot. We look to each other as leaders to keep everyone pumped up and excited. With all the different types of races we run, keeping each other focused is the main key.”
Both White and Campbell are seeking college scholarships. Plaza said Campbell is receiving interest from Baylor, LSU and most of the other in-state schools like Northwestern State and ULM. White is hoping to attract similar attention with one year remaining in her high school career.
“I’m still waiting for that call, still working hard for it,” White said. “I don’t want to stop track and field in high school … I want to go on and be a professional athlete.”