It would be one thing if Daesha Rogers was winning state 1,600-meter titles at some point during her high school career. To be on a path to a title while she is still in the sixth grade -- in the hyper-competitive track and field hotbed of Florida -- is another accomplishment entirely.
Yet, that's precisely what Rogers is doing, with a stunning 1,600-meter victory at the Florida Region 4-2A meet, making her an early favorite to capture the state crown in that event. According to the Miami Herald, the 12-year-old mighty-mite -- who competes at the high school level because her private school incorporates middle school students on to its varsity teams because of limited size -- moved firmly into the favorite role by blazing past the defending Class 2A champion, Stephanie Schappert, by more than a second.
"I knew if [Schappert] chased me the whole race, then the last lap she will try to push it," Rogers told the Herald. "This gives me a lot of confidence to know I can stay with the state champion."
Rogers' victory was the highlight of a regional girls team championship effort from her American Heritage (Fla.) High squad, a crown which Rogers and her teammates hope will propel them back to a second consecutive state title.
Whether they pull off that feat or not, the blazing 1,600 time that Rogers pulled off in an official regional competition both turned the heads of her fellow competitors and made it clear that the pre-teen phenom is more than just hype; she's also the pure blazing speed that has long been advertised, with excitement building steadily since her victory in the Westminster Academy Invitational girls' small-school cross country title.
In fact, the excitement focused on Rogers goes back farther than that, with televised profiles of her training regimen and blazing speed going back as far as the days after her eighth birthday, as you can see above.
Now it appears all that promise is beginning to come to fruition, even earlier than most expected.