Layla Carter has won plenty of track and field events in 2022 — most of them, in fact.
The last Saturday in April, however, was simply not her day. One by one, his chances at the state championships vanished. A complicated tiebreaker dropped him to fifth in the high jump. A pair of standout performances by opponents pushed her to third in the triple jump.
Coming to the end of her final individual event, the 300-meter hurdles, the Vicksburg High junior was in fourth place.
Carter didn’t stop there. She dug deep, cleared the last hurdle, and found another gear when her feet hit the ground. Carter edged Brookhaven’s Chrisiyona Quarles to the finish line and beat her by 0.08 seconds to steal third place and a bronze medal.
“She slowed down so I took a chance and caught her. It was great. It didn’t do her any good, but it did me good,” Carter laughed.
Something else that felt good? Winning the 2022 Athlete of the Year in Women’s Track and Field from the Vicksburg Post.
Carter was one of only two female athletes from Warren County to win two medals at state competitions this year, picking up a second bronze medal in the triple jump to go with her through the hurdles.
Carter reached state competition in four events and won the MHSAA Class 5A North State Championship in three of them. His overall dominance over the season more than made up for a series of setbacks in the championship round.
“I didn’t really expect it, but I tried my best at everything I did and I’m proud of myself,” Carter said of the award.
Carter also received Vicksburg High’s Female Athlete of the Year award for her overall athletic achievement this school year. She averaged 11.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game to lead the Missy Gators to the 4-5A Region basketball title and then moved to the track.
Carter reached Class 5A state competition in the 100-meter hurdles and two relays in 2021, her first to compete on the track, and took it to another level in 2022.
She won the high jump and 300 hurdles titles in Division 4-5A, Region 2-5A and North State competitions. She finished second in the triple jump in the first two rounds of the playoffs, then defeated Jim Hill’s Jada Cavett to win at North State.
Carter also qualified for the state meet in the 4×400 meter relay with teammates Kadajia Allen, Shaniyah Walker and Terri Boyd. They finished seventh.
“Last year I also went (to declare) four events. But this year going for three individual and a relay was a big difference,” Carter said. “I learned that I really have to work if I want to get a medal and that’s what I did.”
Carter said she also learned what it takes to level up and become a state champion. As good as the performance this year was, there were several opponents who were simply better. She plans to work to change that this summer.
“All the competition up to the state wasn’t really competition. When I got to the state, I saw that I had to work harder to actually win,” she said.
That said, being third among dozens of competitors from all over Mississippi wasn’t too bad, she admitted.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “I love being an athlete. I love what I do and I just want to improve.”
Vicksburg Post Athletes of the Year
2022 – Layla Carter, Vicksburg
2021 – Cati Mathews, St. Aloysius
2020 – No winner (COVID)
2019 – Char’Davia Anderson, Vicksburg
2018 – Raven Thompson, Warren Central
2017 – Dede Apenyo, St. Aloysius
2016 – Tymesha Nabors, Vicksburg
2015 – Keiyana Gaskin, Vicksburg
2014 – Alyssa Engel, St. Aloysius