Spring Grove High sprint standout wins three silver medals at national Junior Olympics

  • Laila Campbell recently competed in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics.
  • The rising sophomore at Spring Grove High School came home from the event with three silver medals.
  • The event was held in Jacksonville, Florida, and featured some brutally hot temperatures.

At this rate, Brian Campbell might need to put an addition on the family home in order to store all of his daughter's awards.

Laila Campbell, a Spring Grove High School rising sophomore, won multiple track titles at the York-Adams League, District 3 and PIAA state meets during her standout high school season.

Spring Grove's Laila Campbell wins the 3-A girls' 100-meter dash event at 12.00 during PIAA District III Track & Field Championships in Seth Grove Stadium at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Over the weekend, Laila claimed three more podium spots while running at the 2021 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in Jacksonville, Florida. She took silver in the 100-meter dash and her 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams also won silvers during the event.

In the preliminary rounds of the 100-meter dash, the 6-footer posted the top time with an 11.97-second sprint. In the finals, she posted a 12.00 time to take second and claim silver behind Avery Lewis, who was been competing nationally since she was 9 years old.

"I wasn't as happy with the time, but I had a lot of things I had to face," Laila said. "At the end of the day, it's not about the time. I feel like I should be proud of second in the nation. That's a pretty big accomplishment."

Brian, who is also Laila's coach, was impressed by his daughter's ability to fight through challenges to compete over the weekend. He said the heat index was so high that the event was shut down temporarily after Laila ran her 100-meter dash.

The event ran both ahead of schedule and suffered delays at separate times, which disrupted Laila's normal warmup routine.  

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Spring Grove's Laila Campbell, left, takes the ball to the basket while Hollidaysburg's Alison Hatajik defends 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

"I really enjoy seeing her growth," Brian said. "Just from a mental aspect, being strong, being able to adapt and being able to be agile when under pressure. Track is a pressure sport. You have 11 seconds to get it done. You train for months and you get 11 to 12 seconds to get the job done. Seeing her be able to adapt and roll with the punches, I'm really proud of because I know in previous years when she was younger things of that nature would probably impact performance a lot more, but now I'm seeing that as she gets older she's able to handle different changes and different challenges."

Laila recently received her first scholarship offer from NCAA Division I Manhattan College for basketball, but is still waiting for her first spot on a college track team despite a dominant season. Brian said although she hasn't received an offer yet, several college coaches introduced themselves during the Junior Olympics event.

Spring Grove rising sophomore Laila Campbell gets first NCAA D-I scholarship hoops offer

After training for track after a basketball season that saw her take the team to the state tournament, Laila will take two weeks off before she begins to train for basketball again. She said her plans for the rare period between competitions will include swimming every day, spending time with family and doing some shopping. 

Taking pride in her accomplishments: Laila shocked spectators all season with her performances in both sports. She broke Spring Grove, Y-A League and District 3 records along the way, but kept her focus on continuing to get better and competing nationally. She added three more silver medals this weekend to the long list of honors she earned this year.

Spring Grove's Laila Campbell wins the girls' 200-meter dash event at 24.27 during PIAA Class 3-A Track and Field Championship action at Shippensburg University, Saturday, May 29, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Now that her fantastic freshman season has come to a close, Campbell can look back and be proud of what she accomplished.

"I feel like the whole season — during summer (and) during the school year — it showed what I can do," Laila said. "I competed against the No. 1 recruit in the country, so I feel like getting second and coming close to her showed what I can actually do."

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.