Dallas deserves your respect and support.

Don't boo and/or curse. We're not talkin' 'bout the Cowboys. We're referring to Saqenda Dallas, a former and current track star for Girls High who, by all accounts, is a wonderful young lady.

Former and current are appropo because Dallas was a bust-out star in the triple jump even as a freshman. Then she disappeared for 2 years from the outdoor scene, through no fault of her own, due first to a broken left ankle, then a broken right ankle.

"I wouldn't go as far to say I was depressed," Dallas said. "But I was definitely disappointed. I know what I'm capable of. To come back and struggle . . . "

OK, so Saqenda Dallas has not fully regained old-self status. You'd be making a grave mistake, however, to downplay her importance to a squad that now owns the Public League track championship.

Yesterday at Northeast, the Pegasus posted 104 points for coach Kent Felton to outdistance a four-pack of respectable pursuers - Alvin Swenson 79; Engineering and Science 68.5; Julia Masterman 65.5; and Central 60.5.

Though she fared OK in two running events (fifth over 100 meters in 12.59 seconds; part of a fourth-place 4 x 100 relay), Dallas did her best work in the ground-level jumps, taking second in both the long (18-1) and triple (36-4 1/2).

Her smile was as big as all outdoors.

"I have my ankles protected now!" she gushed, hiking up her sweatpants to show the minibraces. "It has been a slow and steady process trying to get back to how I was as a freshman. You look around and there are always younger kids getting better and better. You have to focus and keep working hard.

"I was encouraged earlier this year when I did a PR [personal record] in the long jump, at 18-1 1/4. This is just another step."

In 2004, Dallas turned heads by soaring 37-6 in the triple jump. The new hot-item freshman, Swenson's Shanae Bailey, captured the 100 (11.89) and 200 (24.71) by reasonably comfortable margins and anchored the 4 x 400 relay quartet to a No. 1 finish (4:01.98).

Girls' Jasmine Wanamaker swept to wins in the 400 (59.68) and intermediate hurdles (44.29). Swenson sophomore Anthonia "Mouse" Ballard claimed first in the highs (14.85) and second in the intermediates (44.30).

Dallas, a B-plus student, is eyeing North Carolina Central, Bowie and Virginia State.

"I want to concentrate on medical-lab technology," she said. "But then, if that bores me, I might go into forensic science. The whole math-and-science thing is very interesting to me.

"I love solving problems. In math, I love my pre-calculus class. Anything that involves strategy, I'm right there. With science, I absolutely love doing anything with my hands. That is so enjoyable for me." *