Former Medgar Evers track star Kadecia Baird had a better start to her college career than she had in her homecoming race at the Armory last Saturday.
The Nebraska University freshman got a slow start off the blocks and finished second in the elite 300-meter race, which included professionals, in a personal best time of 37.26 at the New Balance Games.
Baird used her signature late kick around the final turn to move into second and close the gap on winner Shanae Miller (37.26). Baird said she is always afraid she isn’t going to have enough left in the last stretch, despite her history as a superb closer and one of the best high school sprinters ever to come through New York City.
“I knew once I got out it would be easy for me to come home,” Baird said of the race.
A start Baird is certainly pleased with is the one to her career in Nebraska. The Guyana native clocked a time of 23.70 in the 200 meters in her first collegiate race at the Holiday Inn Invitational earlier this month. It’s the fifth-fastest indoor time in the history of the Cornhuskers program.
She also beat reigning collegiate 400-meter champion Diamond Dixon of Kansas, who was a member of the United States’ gold-medal-winning 4x400-meter relay team at the 2012 Olympics.
“I’m doing pretty good,” Baird said. “At first it was a challenging being away from home, but I’m happy.”
It’s just the start of big things to come. She has an attainable goal of running for Guyana at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Baird isn’t worried about setting goals for her first collegiate season.
“I’m not going to put any pressure on myself,” she said.
Baird soaked in every minute of her homecoming. Her mother Ulele got to watch from the stands. There was plenty of applause for Baird during her introduction at the Armory. A blown up picture of a much younger Baird in action hangs from the rafters.
She received plenty of hugs and greetings as she came off the track. One woman even yelled, “I miss you Kadecia” as she walking to the interview room.
“Oh my god. To hear the people cheer for me and the way they announced me, it made me feel sad, but I was happy at the same time,” Baird said. “I’m glad to be running here.”
She again provided a glimpse of the elite accomplishments that lie ahead off her, like she has so many times before on that very track.