Girls track: Newton’s Yeargin speeds to victories
- Friday’s 6A, 5A, 4A state track results
- Boys track: Andales Pote celebrates his first state javelin title
- Girls track: Valley Center’s Williams throws for a double
- Bob Lutz: Emporias Morrow soars into uncharted territory
- Fridays 3A, 2A, 1A state track results
- Girls track: Saturday’s state notes (updated 6:45 p.m.)
- Boys track: Southeast’s Calloway has a day to remember
- Saturdays state track and field final results
- Gallery: State Track Championship Day 2
- Gallery: State Track Championship Day 1
La’tiyera Yeargin feels like a different person when she’s on a track.
That version of Yeargin, affectionately called “Lati” by peers, has an endearing personality that teammates and coaches want to be around.
That version of Yeargin was on full display on Saturday at Cessna Stadium in the state high school track and field championships. The Newton sophomore won her first state titles, taking home the Class 5A 100-meter dash and then anchoring the winning leg on the Railroaders’ 400 relay team. She also took third in the 200.
“This just feels amazing,” Yeargin said. “It’s like all your hard work finally pays off and it makes you want to work for it even more next year.”
But it’s when she thinks about next year when the other side of Yeargin is exposed.
She’s never had a foundation in her home life. Yeargin’s relationship with her mother, who lives in Topeka, is strained. That’s why she moved in with her grandmother in Newton at the start of high school.
But even that didn’t work out, leading to a brief stay with Ted Remsberg, her track coach at Newton, and ultimately into the house of All Nations Pentecostal Church pastor Larry Lee for this past semester.
That’s why Yeargin never wants to leave the track. It’s the only place she knows where she can go and escape from her problems.
“It was a struggle at first,” Yeargin said. “I would think about it all night and all day and sometimes it would affect my races. But eventually I turned it into my motivation. I come out on the track and then I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
At school, Yeargin has mastered the art of putting on a mask. She always finds a way to make people laugh and her personality is infectious. Some don’t even know about her background.
“If you didn’t know, you would have no idea that she’s going through a lot of stuff,” said Jenna Rangel, her teammate. “She always has a smile on her face and always making you crack up. I think her being successful at track is really what’s keeping her above ground right now. I’m really happy for her.”
But her living situation has drawn the interest of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, and there is an ongoing dispute over her eligibility if she remains in Newton with Lee, who Yeargin wishes to stay with.
Not knowing if this would be her final race in Newton, Yeargin waded through all the potential distractions to produce her finest day of sprinting.
“I’ll tell you what,” Remsberg said, “I’m as proud of her as any athlete I’ve ever coached. She’s gone through a lot and she’s been so mature about it all. I think we’re all proud of what she’s been able to do.”
In the 100, Yeargin’s victory wasn’t secure until the results flashed on the JumboTron. After a quick start, Yeargin maintained her pace and crossed the finish line in 11.96 seconds — one-hundredth of a second faster than Emporia’s Oasis Hernandez. It was the fastest 100 time of all the classes.
“I was going to break down and start crying if I lost that,” Yeargin said. “But once I saw my name come up first on the screen, I was filled with so much joy. It just felt like it was time to win one. I’ve been looking forward to this since Day 1.”
But Yeargin’s greatest pleasure was in bringing joy to her teammates by coming up with the 400 relay victory. When Rangel handed off to Yeargin, she was in third place. It didn’t take long for her to make up the distance and give Newton the title in a season-best time of 49.43.
“As soon as I handed it off to her, I knew she had it,” Rangel said. “Lati doesn’t really get to see the back of people’s jerseys very often. We had all the confidence in her to bring that home and she did.”
Yeargin wanted the day to last forever. She hopes she’s able to keep the feeling of what she felt on Saturday with her. She’s going to need it to get through the summer.
“Track is my getaway,” Yeargin said. “I’m going to miss this because whenever I’m running that’s when I’m at my happiest. I know I’m going to remember this day forever.”