Jakyran Dyer is already one of the best runners in Athens City Middle School history as just a seventh grader.
Dyer now wants to prove he is the best in the state, and he will get that chance Saturday, May 22, in the TMSAA State Track and Field Championships at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.
The sprinter will represent ACMS at state in the boys’ 100-meter and 200m dash, after he won first place in both events in the Section 2, Class A Championships on May 1 in Maryville. Dyer is the top-ranked runner in both events in Class A, and in the state of Tennessee overall he is 16th in the 100 and sixth in the 200.
“It feels great to be in state,” Dyer said in an interview with The Daily Post-Athenian. “There’s going to be competition at state, but hopefully I can push through it and win.”
Dyer already overcame the challenge of having his sixth-grade year of track and field wiped out last year due to COVID-19, making this season effectively his rookie year in middle school track.
“I feel like this has been great for him to have this opportunity to go to Austin Peay, especially after the season we didn’t have last year,” said ACMS coach Christina Sjoberg.
In the first event he ran this season, Dyer came in third place. But he has been on a tear since, having broken the ACMS school record times in both the 100 and the 200. The previous records were 12.34 seconds in the 100 and 25.09 seconds in the 200.
In the Tri-County (SETAC) Championship meet in Cleveland, held before the sectional meet, Dyer had tied the previous school-record time of 12.34 seconds in his first-place finish in the 100, and then he shattered the 200 record by running a personal-record 24.70 seconds on the way to the top spot in that event. Dyer was the first ACMS runner to break under 25 seconds in the 200.
“This has been great for him,” Sjoberg said. “It’s held him accountable, and it’s been good for his ethic in the classroom and on the track.
“He’s been a leader in seventh grade.”
And then in the sectional at Maryville, Dyer set the new ACMS record in the 100 with a personal-record 12.01 seconds, while still running the 200 in 24.84 seconds.
Dyer figures he will need to beat even those numbers to win state titles in his sprinting events.
“It’s going take a lot,” Dyer said. “I’m going to have to get ready on my blocks and stuff, and know that I can beat everybody there and stay focused.”
Sjoberg was more specific on where Dyer will need to stay focused as he runs Saturday in Clarksville.
“He kind of has a bad habit of turning around if someone is on his heels, he’ll turn and look,” Sjoberg said. “He just needs to stay forward and stay focused on what is in front, not what is behind him.”
Dyer, who also plays football for the McMinn County middle school team, is not done trying to improve his speed. Dyer already has some goals set for his eighth grade season at ACMS, even before he moves on to McMinn County High School the following year.
“I want to see if I can get both of my times up, like move to 11-point-something for my 100 and up to like a 23 for my 200,” Dyer said.
If Dyer can continue to improve on the track, Sjoberg believes his future in the sport can extend all the way to college.
“He could get a lot of scholarships for running alone if he keeps this up, which I feel like he does, because it’s been something that’s been great for his morale because of how successful he has been,” Sjoberg said.