Karr High School National Track and Field Champs

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In Greensboro, North Carolina, Edna Karr’s 4 x 100 meter relay team was best in the nation with a time of 40.54 seconds.

Head coach Patrick Tubbins, who ran track for the University of New Orleans, called this group of four a once in a lifetime opportunity: “I have been coaching for years; they have surpassed my expectations.”

At Karr, Tubbins also doubles as a counselor. It is a skill he has used a lot lately. Before these four could experience a national championship, these guys experienced the highs and lows.

In the state meet, Karr was the class 4A favorite to win the 4 x 100 meter relay, but those hopes were dashed when a baton was dropped during an exchange.

Karr won the team title, but “that 4 x 100 meter relay was our baby, and we really wanted to prove to everyone that we could break the state composite record,” Tubbins said. “That was what our goal was. I think we were on our way and that happened.”

And in November, one of the four, Jermey Hicks, was hit by a stray bullet as shots rang out at party Hicks attended Thanksgiving week.

“I was cooling out,” Hicks said, “standing around having a great time and shots rang out, and I just got hit.”

The bullet knocked out Hicks’s four back teeth. Hicks said it exited just before his left ear. Hicks, who signed with Louisiana Tech, said he needs additional surgery.

His coach got a 3 a.m. phone call from Hicks’s mother. Since, he has spoken to Hicks about moving on.

“I was constantly stressing to him that he can’t control the past,” Tubbins said.

Several weeks later, Hicks was back running. This month in Greensboro, the finish was spectacular, but it was only the end of quite a journey.

Tubbins said much credit to his team’s success has to go to a pair of Karr assistant coaches: Nile Lagania and Emerson Romero.