15 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Byrd coaches and teammates realized Kyah Loyd could be a star hurdler long before she did.

The Lady Jackets junior proved them right almost immediately and won her first state title less than a year after making her 100-meter hurdles debut. She already holds five individual school records to go along with a 4x200 relay record set when she was a freshman and has her sights set on much more.

“That’s part of what I hope to help motivate her is telling her numbers and facts and saying, ‘Hey, look, you’re in some good company,''' Byrd track and field coach Juan Plaza said. “She likes that when you tell her and that’s kind of cool.”

Loyd said she learned the value of humility from state champions Caroline Campbell and Morgan White, two of her teammates on the 4x200 relay team that took second place at state in 2014. Campbell ran the fastest 300 hurdles time in Louisiana Class 5A history as a senior at that same meet, and White’s 11.82 as a senior last season still stands as the Byrd 100-meter dash record.

But Plaza believes it could be the next mark Loyd surpasses this outdoor season, during which she’s undefeated in 20 races against Louisiana schools and set a personal-best of 11.89 in the 100 meters at Friday's District 1-5A meet. It’s a continuation of a sensational indoor season during which she broke three school records, capped off by a state title-winning time of 8.81 in the 60-meter hurdles, the second-fastest time in state history.

"Some (races) have been good," Loyd said. "Some haven't. I'm just trying to work hard and get more PRs."

Until last spring, Loyd resisted the pleas of Plaza, Campbell and others to take advantage of her tall frame and long legs and run the hurdles. Finally, Loyd decided she “just needed to try something different” and to the surprise of everyone – including herself – she won her first race at the Byrd Yellowjacket Relays, beating eventual 100-meter hurdles state champion Zanecia Jackson of Ruston.

A little more than a year later Loyd ran a 14.10 in the prelims of the Texas Relays, the fastest time in Louisiana this season by more than half a second. Plaza warns not to put too much stock into those rankings, but he likes Loyd’s chances.

“She’s come a long ways and I think she realizes she’s good at the 100 and the 200, but the things she’s really gifted in is this event,” Plaza said. “A lot of coaches don’t put their top athletes hurdling. I do because it takes top athletes to really excel in this event or any of the hurdles.”