Noah Lyles, photo by PhotoRun.net
Noah Lyles is one of the fine young athletes who are competing at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Elliott Denman writes about his school, his family and his dream. This is Elliott Denman’s third column for the 2016 Olympic Trials. As Elliott Denman was a 1956 Olympian at 50k, he has been to a few of these battles for the top three.
BY ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON – Noah Lyles proudly sports the red-white-blue racing singlet of T.C. Williams High School as he speeds around Hayward Field.
He’s one of the many high schoolers on the premises of the USA Olympic Track and Field Trials, and like all of his scholastic colleagues here tends to rush to conclusions.
Their conclusions are obvious.
They are all dead certain that their youth is no barrier to adult-size performances and the adults around here don’t dare challenge the statement.
High jumping phenomenon Vashti Cunningham (already the World Indoor champion) Is merely the top of this Olympic Trials iceberg.
Also on the girls side, there are sprinters Candace Hill and Kaylin Whitney, 400-meter hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, long jumpers Samiyah Samuels and Tara Davis, and a bunch more.
Among the boys, we have high jumper Vernon Turner, 400 hurdler Norman Grimes Jr. and 200-400 young man Michael Norman.
But my guy is Noah Lyles, and this time it’s strictly personal.
Two decades ago, as an Asbury Park Press columnist, I commissioned myself to write a series outlining the state of New Jersey’s finest Olympic prospects and the exercise, understandably, took me to the South Orange campus of Seton Hall University.
There. veteran coach John Moon delineated the talents of a sizzling low-45s 400-meter man, Kevin Lyles, already one of the finest in the nation, and whose number one young lady friend happened to be a fine young sprinter named Keisha Caine.
The resulting story detailed their budding talents as well as their budding romance.
I do not have that story at my fingertips as I write this story from the press tent at Hayward Field, but there’s a strong memory that it included a statement along the lines of “should these two ever bond in marriage, there’s no telling how fast the products of that union may eventually be.”
Two of those answers are Noah and Josephus Lyles, not twins, but recent graduates of T.C. Williams and bound for further Glories at the University of Florida.
Noah is here at Hayward, but Josephus is sitting it out with some mild injuries.
Noah (born July 18, 1997) antedates Josephus (born July 22, 1998) by a year and four days.
The elder brother ran the 100 meters in 10.16 (4/100ths over his lifetime best) to advance to the semifinals, but said He planned to opt out of the short sprint to focus on the 200, where he figures his 20.23 credentials this year (20.18 In 2015) rate him a better chance of winning a trip to Rio.
Given his amazing talent – and amazing genes – it would surprise no one here to see Noah Lyles run the 200 somewhere in the 19s somewhere before the Trials close shop.
“Truthfully,” he analyzes, “everybody’s human, age shouldn’t have anything to do with how well you do here.
“You’ve got to have a little bit of talent, and if you work hard and have a good team behind you, You can get faster and you can get stronger and anybody can make it.
“I’ve just got to keep moving and I know the more competition I get the better I’ll get and the faster I’ll get.”
And finally this warning to all the elders of the sprint world: “I do know I have a few gears I can’t reach yet.
“I’m still trying to unlock them and one day I know I will.”
For the past few years, Noah and Josephus Lyles have been T.C. Williams High School’s amabassadors to the athletic world.
Their “T.C.” singlets have been seen here, there and just about everywhere.
But who exactly is this person,this “T.C.” fellow, or maybe woman?
“You know, that’s a very good question,” Noah tells you, “and you know what, I just don’t know.”
“I really should but I just don’t.”
A little wikipedia-ing and we have our answer:
It was named after former superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams
of Alexandria City Public Schools
who served from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. The high school
is located near the geographic center of the city, at 3330 King Street and is referred to informally as “T.C.”
(rather than “Williams”) by students, faculty and locals. Approximately 2,500 students from grades 10-12 are enrolled at T.C’s main campus. About 1000 ninth graders have most or all of their classes at the branch Minnie Howard campus (0.6 miles (1.0 km) distant) and participate in T.C. Williams sports and extracurricular activities as well as some classes.”
Clearly, Thomas Chambliss Williams would be bursting with pride, too, if only he was still around to see the very-quick, very-young, very-promising, very-with-it youngsters advertising his school to the athletic universe.