Montclair High School 200-meter NJ champ, Lawson, prepares for next challenge, college
Kiya Lawson finished her track career at Montclair High School as THE best 200-meter runner in the state of New Jersey, but the Howard University-bound sprinter is much more than that.
"The best aspect of Kiya is just the way she's grown during her four years with the program, not just athletically but as a person," said MHS track head coach Daryl Washington.
"Yes, athletically she has done amazing things this year, but ask anyone at Montclair High School that knows her, the one thing they're amazed at … is just her growth as a young woman and the way she carries herself and is there for others.
"This overall growth will be what helps her as she continues to grow at Howard. I think she will be very successful. She's been consistent with her summer training and is already in preparation for the next step in life. One thing she understands is to be good, let alone great, one cannot be stagnant but always in a growth mindset."
Lawson brought home gold to Montclair by winning the State Meet of Champions 200-meter title in June with a time of 24.81 and was named to the All New Jersey first team.
She also had a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash at that meet with a time of 12.00 flat, only 0.07 of a second behind Kent Place's Christiana Nwachuku.
Coming into the 2022 outdoor track and field season, Lawson was on target to make a splash after winning the 200 meters at the state indoor Meet of Champions in March. She also finished sixth and fourth at that indoor meet in the 55 meters and 400 meters, respectively.
"Honestly, the [outdoor] state title was the plan all season," she said. "Seeing as I already won it during the winter. But on top of the state title, I wanted to make sure I helped the team, and Coach Wash and I always spoke about excelling across all of my events and shaking up the state rankings."
David Oliver, director of Howard University’s NCAA Division I track and field program, said, "I was impressed by her discipline and 'want to.' As a coach, I can provide the 'what to do,' 'when to do' and 'how to do,' but the student-athlete must provide the 'want to do.'
“I believe she has that” and will be “a tremendous student and athlete here in our short sprint events."
Oliver said he also was inspired by the people around Lawson. "Her family impressed me so much," he said.
Lawson’s family and friends were around in force when she won the 200 meters at the State Meet of Champions. "My mom, dad and my siblings came along with my parents' friends to watch me," she said after the meet.
The Montclair speedster decided on Howard after paring down her college choices, which included Rutgers University and St. John's University.
"I picked Howard because of how their track program is growing and feel as though I can add depth and grow with the program," she said.
"I also picked it because of coach David Oliver and the vision that he has for the program, that reminded me of coach Washington, so I know I'm in good hands."
Though Lawson’s state title in the 200 meters was the culmination of her years at Montclair High School, she had a feeling about it beginning in her sophomore season.
"Through my career at Montclair High School I'd have to say
every year just got better, to be honest, every year I got better," she said. "But I would definitely say winter season my sophomore year and spring season 2021, those seasons and the Montclair High School upperclassmen really set the tone for me to do what I did this year."
Teamwise, Lawson said, the Montclair girls squad came in second to Livingston in the race for the team title in the Essex County Championships. The senior took both the 100- and 200-meter titles while anchoring the 1600-meter relay squad that took gold.
Along with Lawson, the other members of that relay team were sophomore Maya Kim and juniors Aleta Theron and Allahjah Young-Bey.
And Lawson grabbed second in the 400-meter run at the county championships.
"My top team moment this year would be our come-from-behind second-place finish at the Essex County Championship, but honestly overall just the season as a whole and the growth of the team across all the events," she said.
For Lawson, the indoor track and field season at Howard starts in December, and she is getting ready for it during the summer. Her first day of school is Aug. 22.
"Summer training is going well," she said. "It's very similar to what I'm used to with coach Washington, weight room, drills, mechanical work and a bit of conditioning.”