By Andy Warrener
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
Kailiece Harris is on a mission to become the first girl in Carrollwood Day School (CDS) track and field history to earn a state medal.
The 400-meter runner enters regionals, which is April 18 at Orlando First Academy, as the No. 2 seeded competitor after setting her personal record of 59.23 seconds at the USF/Steinbrenner Invitational earlier this year.
If she reaches states and finishes in the top eight, she earns a spot on the medal stand, and will do so as a seventh-grader.
“(Kailiece) has surpassed even her own expectations,” said first year Patriots coach Travis Hall. “We all knew she could compete, but I don’t think even she knew the level of talent she’s discovered this year.”
Kailiece won the 1A-8 district championship in the 400 (59.27) April 12.
She still remembers her first encounter with track, which she picked up at age 6.
“I remember we were just driving in the car by Hillsborough High School and we saw a bunch of kids my age practicing,” Kailiece said. “We pulled over and asked how old you had to be to practice. They said 6, and that’s when I started.”
Her father Kay Jay, a former member of the track and field team at Tampa Bay Tech, said Kailiece has more than 70 medals from different meets, including winning the Junior Olympics in long jump in 2007.
Kay Jay sought out the experience of Roosevelt Cooper, her AAU coach.
“It’s unbelievable how strong she is,” Cooper said. “Most kids her age are not anywhere near that powerful.”
They have developed her power with a technique called overspeed, which is when the trainer tethers themselves to the athlete and runs, dragging them to faster times.
“As long as I know how fast she can run, I can pull her,” Cooper said.
The Harris track bloodlines also run through Kailiece’s younger brother Kyle, 10, whom Kay Jay said can already run in 5-kilometer races with adults.
“We use him (Kyle) as a rabbit for Kailiece,” Kay Jay said. “We put Kyle on the track in front of her and tell her go catch him.”
Kay Jay said Kailiece can easily outrun her little brother in a flat out race, but it makes for a great challenge and family entertainment that can’t be had anywhere else.
The top four performers in each event at regionals advance to the 1A state meet April 26 at the University of North Florida.
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