SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - Timber Creek's Damiere Byrd didn't hesitate when asked what kind of day he had Friday at the state Group 1, Group 3 and Non-Public A boys' and girls' track and field championships.
"Today definitely was a good day," the junior said after he won the Group 3 400-meter dash, his second event in a two-event day at South Plainfield High.
Timber Creek was leading Group 3 boys with 38 points after seven track and eight field events. The action is scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Seneca girls' team was leading Group 3 with 26 points. Kingsway was second with 24.
In Group 1, the Woodbury boys were tied for the lead with Hasbrouck Heights with 28 points, and the Pitman and Westwood girls were tied for first place with 22 points.
No area team was spearheading the charge in the Non-Public action.
Byrd ran the 400 in 47.88 seconds, a personal-best time. He was even happier when he recalled what happened last season.
"I didn't run the 400 last year [at the state meet] because I was hurt in the 100 at sectionals," said Byrd, who had a comfortable lead over Ocean Township's Mike Andre at the finish line.
"My first 200 is always slow; I took the lead in the last 200. Once I hit the curve . . ."
Earlier in the afternoon, Byrd won the 100 in 10.68, which was better than the time (10.75) in which he won the event at the sectional meet last week at Buena.
"I start faster than everyone else, and I try to hold it," Byrd said. "I finished third last year. I hurt my hamstring in the race."
Saturday, the 11th grader will attempt to add two more state titles, one in the 200 and another in the 4x400. He won the 100, 200, 400 and was part of the victorious 4x400 at sectionals.
In Group 3 girls, Seneca's Michelle Brown edged Neptune's Ajee Wilson by two one-hundredths of a second to win the 400 in 54.49.
The race was so close that Brown thought she had lost, until the public address announcer called her name as the winner.
"I leaned, and I guess the lean helped me," Brown said. "I wanted to defend my [state] title."
In the 100 earlier, Brown came in behind Hopewell Valley's Miranda Mackey, who won in 12.30. Brown was clocked in 12.46, a shade slower than the 12.45 that won her the sectional crown last week.
Brown's teammate, Mary Bohi, was disappointed in the 400 hurdles, in which she placed second in 1 minute, 3.5 seconds. The senior was upset by Clearview's Cassandra Lenkowski, who won in 1:01.86.
"I have asthma," said Lenkowski, who was seeded sixth. "Today, I sucked it up and didn't think about anything else. And now I'm a state champ."