There are some athletes who just excel at everything they do. Bay High track and field star Na'Kiya Russell is one of those people, as she's excelled as a three sport athlete in her time as a Lady Tornado. But Na'Kiya had to give up her first love basketball to continue the sport she excels at the most- track and field.
"I was more into basketball my 9th and 10th grade years, but it was last year when I got to do more of the jumps, when I said, track is what I want to do."
She does it well, as Na'Kiya broke an eight year triple jump record earlier this season by over a foot, and at the County Championships, she took first in three of the four jump disciplines. But it's not just the field events where Na'Kiya shines, as she anchors the 4x4 relay team, an event Bay High finished second in at State last year.
"Just recently we had a time trial and she ran a 59 right by herself," said head coach Lt. Col. Aaron Byas. "I'm expecting her to go 57 and if she does that, we should win the Championship this year."
"I don't really look at it like first place, second place, I look at it like, I'd come in fourth place as long as I get better," she said. "As long as I PR each meet, that's fine with me."
While she's setting records on the track, Na'Kiya is also setting some records in the classroom, as she's ranked 5th in her class, and balances a 4.6 GPA.
"The stuff we do out here on this field, track and field, football, that's all for fun," said Lt. Col. Byas. "The real life is that academics. That's what is going to make a difference in her life, is how well she'll do in that classroom."
It's that combination of book smarts and speed that's taking Na'Kiya to the next level, as with several offers on the table, she just has to figure where, and what, she'll run.
"They're talked to me about being a heptathlete by doing seven events over two days, so I'm just playing it by ear," she said.
"Those events that she does, she doesn't do it by just showing up- she works hard," said Lt. Col. Byas. "When I first met her, I said you're going to be a great multi-athlete in college because you do so many great things well."
Well enough that track and field is now her first love, and in a few weeks, hopefully a State Champion.
Na'Kiya does an an offer from South Carolina State, but she has been accepted into Miami and UCF, two schools where she's been in contact with the track coaches. She said if an offer comes, she'll become a Cane, or a Knight. Where ever she ends up, Na'Kiya plans to study Engineering.