Henry Clay track and field coach Demetrius Gay let out a laugh when asked about Asiah Smith, a sprinter who’s blossomed into one of the fastest girls in Lexington.
It was an expression of endearment toward his senior standout who’s “dropping times like crazy” as the biggest meets of the high school season are quickly approaching. Next up? The Fayette County Championships, which the Blue Devils will host Tuesday.
Smith’s dominating sweep of the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races in the Tyson Gay Invitational on April 23 — she set meet records in all three events — lifted Henry Clay’s girls to a team win over No. 6 Bryan Station. Not bad for a reformed hurdler who just couldn’t get over the thought of clearing another obstacle as a freshman.
“They always gave me anxiety,” Smith said. “I could never enjoy a meet. So I told my coach, ‘You know, hurdles aren’t working out for me and I would like to try sprinting.’”
Taking away the hurdles turned out to be a good move. Smith set personal records in the 100 and 200 during the Tyson Gay. It was the second straight week she PR’d in the 100.
Her time of 24.98 seconds in the 200 at the Tyson Gay was the fastest Lexington time this year and only .14 seconds off the fastest time in the state this season, held by Male’s Taliyah Townsend. That’s actually the event in which Smith feels she is weakest.
Asiah Smith’s winning times in the Tyson Gay Invitational: 100 meters: 12.33 200 meters: 24.98 400 meters: 58.27
Smith’s favorite? The 400, where her top time of :58.08 is the fastest in the city this season.
“It’s just a beautiful race,” she said. “I think it’s about strategy and pushing yourself. It’s all mental.”
Demetrius Gay said Smith, who battled back from a knee injury at the beginning of the season, told him she wants to claim the Henry Clay record for the 400. She’s about half a second away.
“She’s close to it,” Gay said. “It should all come together for her at region time. That’s when we want to be our at our best, is at region time and then carry that over to the state meet.”
Smith expects to fare well once the state competition rolls around at the end of May.
“I think I’ll do way better than I am right now,” she said. “I think I’ll surprise a lot of people.”
Her confidence in the lanes now is a far cry from that of the freshman petrified by the hurdles. A “flawless” form was repurposed with what seems to be runaway success.
Even if sometimes it appears she’s going nowhere.
“It doesn’t look like she’s moving fast but she’s really moving,” Gay said. “When I first got her I was like, ‘Gosh she’s not moving fast.’ Then I start looking at times and she’s rolling. It’s effortless to watch her run.”
Just now checking in to see the track-and-field talent Lexington has to offer? Here’s one big name to watch for each school competing in Tuesday’s city public schools meet:
Jaron Brooks, Henry Clay: Auburn signee holds the season’s best marks in both the triple jump (50-6) and high jump (6-11.5).
Kristina Leggas, Lafayette: The junior held the season’s best mark in the girls’ pole vault — 12-4 — until Henderson County’s Jaci Bickett went an inch higher in Paducah on Saturday. Gotta think that’s a motivator.
Isaiah McCall, Bryan Station: Junior ran a 37.73 in the 300 hurdles at the Eastern Relays on Saturday, which would be a KHSAA meet record.
Girls’ 4-by-100 relay team, Tates Creek: OK, so it’s not one name, but Tyanne Bentley, Myann Davidson, Rosalyn Hollingsworth and Nakaiya Wearren comprise the fastest group in the state this season.
Fayette County Championships
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Henry Clay High School
Tickets: Adults, $6; students, $4.