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Byrd to run 100 in Meet of Champs

The Timber Creek sprinter says his stiff hamstring is feeling better.

The boys and girls' track and field Meet of Champions is scheduled to take place Thursday at Old Bridge, and there has been speculation about one of the premier sprinters in New Jersey.

Timber Creek's Damiere Byrd, the 2010 Group 3 state champion in the 100, 200, and 400 meters, won the 100 at states Friday and dropped out of the rest of the competition because of stiffness in his left hamstring.

Will he be able to compete at the M of C?

"Yes, I will run," Byrd said Tuesday night. "[The hamstring] is feeling good. The last time I ran was Friday, and I've been taking it easy since.

"On Saturday, we decided I wasn't going to run, but after a couple of days I've been trying to get my rehab going so I can run well enough to win [at the Meet of Champs] and in a good time."

His time in the 100 on Friday was 10.50 seconds, a tad slower than the time with which he won the 100 at sectionals, 10.36, a personal best.

Last year Byrd placed second in the Meet of Champions 100 in 10.42. Then-junior Miles Shuler-Foster of Long Branch won in 10.39.

Byrd is not planning to participate in any other event, even though the Chargers will have a wild-card 4x400-meter relay team in the race.

In all, Timber Creek will have nine athletes vying for the gold at the M of C.

In addition to Byrd, Quanzell Lambert will compete in the shot put as well as the javelin, in which teammate Chris Lowe will also challenge.

Kevin Potter is eyeing the 110 high hurdles and long- jump titles. Donnie House will run the 400 hurdles. And Josh Gray, the Chargers' top scorer in the state meet with 14 points, is set for the long jump and triple jump. The junior placed third in the state in the long jump (21 feet, 11 inches) and second in the state in the triple jump (44-3).

The 4x4 consists of House, Brian Grant, Cory Harrity, and Greg Black.

"Now they get to have fun," Timber Creek coach Chris Grottini said about his athletes. "Just do what got you here, nothing special. It's a bonus for the coaching staff, too, to have these kids move on [to the M of C]."

Byrd had great expectations of himself in the 2011 outdoor postseason track and field events. South Jersey track and field fans expected great things of the South Carolina-bound athlete, too, after what he accomplished last year.

His senior year, everyone expected more of the same, only better as far as times went. However, tightness in his left hamstring after he won the 100-meter dash on June 3 at the NJSIAA Group 3 state championships at South Plainfield prevented him from achieving all of his goals.

Byrd wanted to defend his 400 title, win the long jump, and be part of a victorious 4x400 relay. However, his coaches advised him against it. They didn't want to risk injury, especially with his leaving for college next month. (He was recruited to play football.)

Furthermore, Grottini thought that the rest of the squad had the talent to win the state team title. And it did, for the fourth time in the last four years.

Now it's time to show what those athletes can do in the final high school event of the season.