Spring Grove standout Laila Campbell to skip Rockets' basketball season for indoor track

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
Spring Grove's Laila Campbell, center, moves the ball down the court while Hollidaysburg's Marin Miller, left, and Sydney Lear defend during PIAA Class 5-A girls' basketball state quarterfinal action at Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Saturday, March 20, 2021. Spring Grove would win the game 71-59. Dawn J. Sagert photo

When the York-Adams League basketball season begins this weekend, one of York Couny's top talents won't be on the court.

Spring Grove High School sophomore Laila Campbell won't play varsity basketball this winter for the Rockets, instead opting to participate in the indoor track season after a stellar spring on the track.

Campbell's father and track/basketball coach at Spring Grove, Brian, said that Laila is still pursuing both sports as an avenue in college, and by sitting out the scholastic basketball season in favor of AAU basketball in the summer, she can find a way to compete in both at a high level while continuing to train on the track.

"I believe this decision gives us a competitive advantage," Brian Campbell said. "She does school track, but then competing on the national circuit, you get to the highest-level competition areas. Same thing with basketball. (Spring Grove head coach) Troy (Sowers) is a great coach (and) Spring Grove is a great opportunity, so it's a tough, tough, tough decision, but I just think from a balance perspective, this will still be a way where we can still lock in basketball and track and compete at a high level."

Sowers said on Tuesday night that he wishes Laila Campbell the best in the future with her decision.

During her freshman campaign, Laila Campbell helped the Rockets win a District 3 Class 5-A title with a huge season. She was fifth in the Y-A League in scoring at 16 points per game and scored a career-high 33 points in the district semifinal game.

That standout season was enough to earn her a basketball scholarship offer from NCAA Division I Manhattan College. Laila Campbell couldn't compete in AAU basketball during the summer because her outdoor track season on the national outdoor track circuit interfered, but Brian Campbell said multiple top AAU teams are interested in the sophomore joining them this summer.

Spring Grove's Laila Campbell wins the girls' 100-meter dash event at 11.93 during the PIAA Class 3-A Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University, Saturday, May 29, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

During the spring track season, Laila Campbell captured the District 3 Class 3-A titles in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dash events before she won the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash at the PIAA 3-A meet.

Once the school year ended, she spent the summer traveling around the country and competing against the nation's top sprinters.

At Outdoor Nationals held on the University of Oregon’s campus, Laila Campbell finished ninth in the 200 and No. 16 in the 100 out of 36 girls from all four high school classes.

During the 2021 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in Jacksonville, Florida, she won silver in the 100-meter dash, while her 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams also took silver medals during the event.

To make it all work, Brian and Laila Campbell will continue their six-days-per-week training program, with plenty of film study in between workouts. They might also need a new calendar to find a way to make the packed schedule work for the standout sophomore.

"It's a delicate balance, but if we participate in indoor (track), it kind of shortens what we need to do in outdoor (track)," Brian Campbell said. "She can participate in indoor fully and outdoor fully, then hit one national meet and then we could jump right into really attacking the AAU basketball schedule. I think you get a high-level competition at every game, and I just think it will be a good balance for her to be in to participate fully in both."

—Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.