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Steady Campbell helps Medgar Evers earn return trip to Penn Relays final

A lot was asked of Kimberly Campbell in her first time competing at the Penn Relays. The Medgar Evers sophomore was asked to fill in for emotional leader Kadecia Baird, who is in Guyana because of a death in her family. The Cougars were in third place prior to Campbell’s third leg of the 4 x 400 meter relay on April 28 in Philadelphia.

“I was really nervous. I wouldn’t lie,” Campbell said. “I got to the line and it was like my heart dropped.”

What didn’t take a big drop off was Medgar Evers’ time and its chance to reach its goal. Campbell kept anchor leg Sandrae Fargiharson in striking distance of Cardozo and Edward Allen HS of Jamaica in their heat.

“It’s better to stay there and die than to just give up,” Campbell said.

She ran a 59.6 split and was unable to close the gap, but the Cougars placed third in a time of 3:45.63, just a hundredth of a second behind Edward Allen and qualified for the Championship of America Final on April 29 with the sixth best time in the meet. With Baird, the Cougars ran 3:42.67 this season. Rival Cardozo won the heat in 3:42.73.

“We all knew she was capable of running 58,” senior and lead leg Nyanka Moise-Joseph said for Campbell. “It’s not if she can. It’s if she wants to. Today she wanted too.”

Coach Shaun Dietz said he was still unsure if Baird would be back in time for the final, but is considering running the same team again regardless. He was proud of his kids and believed they could make it back to the final, where he feels they can run even better.

“I believed,” Dietz said. “We came out here and we competed today. They made it back and that’s it.”

It’s the part of the day his team will most like to remember after it did not get to finish the 4 x 100 in the morning when Sheniece Daphness got her spike caught and fell into Camille Edwards, who was unable to continue after dropping the baton. She did come back to place 12th in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet 2 inches.

“This was a way for me to redeem from that 4 x 1,” Campbell said.

Medgar Evers can also put last year’s final, where they didn’t get to compete, behind them.

Baird was unable to go at the last minute and the Cougars didn’t have an alternate ready. They do not plan on that being the case again this time around.

“We still have a stronger team than we did last year — this time we don’t plan on not showing up on the track,” Moise-Joseph said with a smile. “They better be looking for us.”

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