Next Up From Hampton Roads? Get To Know Shakayla Lavender

* The National Elite girls 100mH finals at adidas Outdoor Nationals

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- One look inside Virginia's all-time girls high hurdles rankings reveals a bevy of riches from the Hampton Roads region.

The area code, known just as the '757,' is a badge of honor: You grow up here, you hurdle.  

But the facts are pretty clear: Eight out of the top 10 females of all-time in the high school ranks in the state are from either Nansemond River (Brandee Johnson, No. 1 all-time at 13.08), Western Branch (four inside the top 10) or Hampton High School -- four of them own performances in the top 50 of the 100mH all-time nationally, too. 

And yet, it's been three years since the area has had a true superstar. 

On Friday, that may have changed. 

Future Oscar Smith High School freshman Shakayla Lavender exploded in the prelims of the 100mH, producing a Virginia No. 7 all-time, a U.S. No. 9 performance and the No. 2 effort ever out of an eighth-grade athlete. Lavender ran a leading wind-legal time of 13.65 seconds. 

Then she did herself one better, elevating to a time of 13.60 seconds in the finals, which is now U.S. No. 8 on the season. Only Tia Smith, the national high school record holder in the 110mH -- with a time of 12.84 seconds from 2016 -- has run better as an eighth-grader all-time. 

That was over a full second faster than her previous wind-legal best of 14.69 seconds, which came in 2020. 

"After I walked off, I was like, 'I just did that,'" Lavender said after the prelims. 

It immediately moved into the top 10 performances of all-time in Virginia. 

Upon reflection, the Chesapeake native was already ready for her encore. 

"It's like amazing when I think about it," she said after the prelims. "(But) when I run it, it's like 'OK, next. Let's go to the next one.'" 

A few hours later she re-focused, zeroed in on her mission and capitalized off her moment, securing an even better performance. Lavender, who's been running the hurdles since she was 11, believed there was more pressure on her in the finals. 

But after the first hurdle, she said it was smooth sailing.

One could have suspected a little bit of this success coming. Oscar Smith's High School track and field program, coached by Stan Holloway, has this success before: Holloway guided the state's all-time leader in the 110mH, Kurt Powdar, back in 2019. 

In fact, Holloway had not one but two athletes secure top 10 marks in the state all-time -- Aaron Shirley grabbed the eighth-best performance in the 110mH back in 2019 (13.81). 

Since 2015, Oscar Smith has seen five athletes enter into the state's top 50 performances all-time. 

With Friday's performance, Lavender became the latest Hampton Roads success story. 

But the crazy part? 

She's only 14. She's barely a teenager. 

For Lavender, though, that's just fine with her. This is the beginning of her journey. 

"Just keep going," she said afterward. "Just keep doing it. And once it's done, it's done." 

Photo Credit: Dan Loughlin/MileSplit

Photo By David Nguyen/MileSplit

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