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Timber Creek sprinter bests a malfunction

Damiere Byrd, the defending champ, won the 100 in Group 3 despite losing a knee brace.

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - An odd thing happened to Timber Creek sprinter Damiere Byrd on his way to the finish line in the 100-meter race Friday.

The brace on his left knee fell off about three quarters of the way through the run for the NJSIAA state Group 3 championship.

Byrd, the defending state champ in the event, held on for the victory in 10.50 seconds.

The South-Carolina-bound senior felt fortunate, even though he had clocked a faster time - 10.36, a personal best - in winning the 100 at the sectional meet a week ago.

"I was worried about stepping on it," Byrd said about the brace.

Byrd said he was looking forward to helping his team win the state crown again. The Chargers have won the last three Group 3 crowns.

After eight events Friday, the Timber Creek boys led with 31 team points.

Athletes in Groups 3 and 2 and Non-Public B are vying for state crowns in the two-day event, which is scheduled to conclude Saturday. The top six finishers in each event will advance to the Meet of Champions on Thursday at Old Bridge.

Byrd is scheduled to do the long jump and participate in the 4x400-meter relay Saturday.

Winslow Township's Ste'yce McNeil got the afternoon off to a good start when she won her first outdoor state title in the Group 3 400 low hurdles. The junior wore a bandage around her midsection because of what she referred to as an "abscess" on her midsection, which worried her before the race.

However, she seemed to forget about it during the race because she was clocked in 1:02.50, which topped the 1:02.56 with which she won the sectional title.

The talented junior also finished third in the 400, behind Sparta's Erika Veidis (55.56) and Cranford's Natalie Englese (56.22).

Delsea's girls lead Group 3 with 32 points. Felicia O'Donnell contributed six points by placing third in the 1,600 in 4:57.48, a personal-best time.

Haddonfield thrived in the first distance run of the afternoon, the 1,600, as expected. And Ben Potts benefitted.

Potts won in 4:16.79. It wasn't his best time - his personal best is 4:14 - but he wasn't complaining. The state title was his first in the 1,600 outdoors.

Tacquaya Tobias gave Our Lady of Mercy Academy a big boost in Non-Public B by winning the 100 in 12.21 and the long jump in 18 feet, 41/2 inches and placing second in the high jump at 5-0.

Tobias' long jump set a meet record, eclipsing the mark of 18-31/4 set by Morris Catholic's Vanessa Lewis in 1995.

OLMA leads the group with 34 points.