As the high school indoor season heats up, local track and field enthusiasts find it difficult to talk about their sport without mentioning Felecia Majors. The versatile South County athlete took home state titles in the long jump and pole vault last year, and she’s spending her senior season blowing past opponents in eight different events this year.
Followers of South County’s track and field squad, meanwhile, find it difficult to talk about Felecia Majors without mentioning Morgan Knight. A multifaceted competitor in her own right, Knight has used a fast start to her junior season to prove that she belongs in the same breath as her decorated teammate. After qualifying for the state meet in the pole vault last month, Knight qualified in the 55-meter hurdles two weeks ago with a school-record time of 8.45 seconds.
The Stallions’ dynamic duo is inseparable not only on the sidelines, but also in the numbers they post. There have been several instances this season where they have both come away with the exact same mark, which motivates each of them to set new standards at the next event.
“I’ll ask her, ‘Wait, wait, what was your mark?’” Majors said with a laugh.
The two girls view themselves as twins in several aspects. In addition to the comparable marks they set in field events, both girls took up track and field for the first time during their freshmen years, and they both found their niche in the pole vault before getting a handle on other events. Ask them about the moment they realized they were fast, and you’ll hear about two separate incidents of being chased by a dog. (The only difference there is that Morgan got caught while Felecia did not.) As each girl’s importance to the fate of South County’s state title hopes continues to rise, their friendship continues to strengthen. They stay loose by chatting in between events and encouraging each other from the sidelines. Watching them stand alongside competitors from other schools before a race, they appear more at ease, as if they know that a subpar performance would simply be compensated by their teammate’s next race.
Yet the secret to their success might lie more in trying to beat each other than in trying to beat the rest of the field.
“We’re very competitive, especially with each other. Like at practice we have a spring board off the long jump and we see who can get the farthest,” said Knight, turning back toward her friend. “And at first I didn’t get it, but then I landed right where you landed on that last one.”
The pair’s budding friendship has given each the confidence to get better, breeding waves of success that have in turn strengthened the bond of the entire team.
“Felicia’s become a good mentor with Morgan, and now I think they’ve become really good friends with one another,” South County coach TD Holsclaw said. “Our team as a whole has gotten tighter with the success that we’ve had.”
So far South County - a favorite to capture a Virginia AAA title after finishing third last year - has qualified four athletes for the state competition that will take place at Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Va., on Feb. 22 and 23. Joseph Boyd has qualified in the high jump, Khalil Jackson in the pole vault and Knight in the 55 hurdles and the pole vault. Majors has already qualified in all of her events, including pole vault, long jump, triple jump, high jump, 300 meters and 500 meters. The girls team has also qualified the 4x2 and 4x4 relays.
Majors’s most spectacular feat at this point in the season came last month in the long jump competition at the PR Holiday Invitational in Landover, Md. Hoping only to set a good mark that she could build on as the season progressed, the senior’s first attempt launched her an astounding 19 feet 11 inches into the pit, breaking a three-year-old meet record by nearly two feet and setting the No. 1 mark in the country this season.
“I was really surprised,” said Majors, whose new goal is to exceed 20 feet in the jump. “Honestly I didn’t expect it, not at that meet. I just said, ‘Okay, I’m going to peak at the end of the season and see what happens now.’ So maybe I have a lot more in me than I thought. I’m hoping to do even better when I get [to states].”
Knight’s breakthrough moment this season came on Jan. 4 at the Southeastern Invitational in Hampton, Va. After clocking 8.72 seconds in the 55 hurdles the previous week, she hit 8.45 in Hampton, giving her a new PR and a school record in the process. Such significant improvement was unexpected, especially considering she had only practiced the event twice in between those two times.
“At first it was hard for me to get back into my movement,” Knight said. “At each meet I feel like I progress more in some events that I do, but I haven’t been able to get my hurdles time down where it used to be. So when I did that, I was like running around screaming because I just broke the school record. I was just happy that I finally got my time down. Then I started moving forward in all the other events, so it got easier.”
Those feats are nice, but they pale in comparison to the ultimate goal at the end of the tunnel.
“I just want to win states,” Majors said. “I really want a ring on my finger before I leave.”
With the South County duo’s improvement outpacing even their own expectations, that ring could be well within their grasp.