Junior Kanye Mills and sophomore Yashahya Brown have formed a strong duo in hurdles for Washington Township.
Both secured the top spots in the 110-meter high hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles at the Gloucester County Championships earlier this month, with Brown winning the 110 and Mills the 400. The two were also on the winning 4×400-meter relay team, responsible for an identical 28 team points at the county meet won by the Minutemen after they scored 119 team points. Delsea finished second with 109 points and Deptford (62), Kingsway (60) and Williamstown (41) rounded out the top five.
As might be expected, having a teammate to practice alongside each day in both hurdle events led to tremendous growth for Mills and Brown and allowed them to push each other while perfecting their form and technique.
Just a year ago, it felt like a very different story.
“I felt like I was chasing after [Kanye] in both hurdle events all last season,” Brown said. “I was trying as hard as I could just to get next to him in races. Now this year, we kind of go back and forth, and I feel like that’s made our bond stronger.
“We help each other in practice but when we’re on the track, it’s like a fight to see who can finish first, and that brings the best out of us,” he added.
A year apart in age, Mills and Brown started their first season on the track the same year: The former was a freshman at Triton before he transferred to the township and joined the Minutemen in 2021.
The task of doing both hurdle events – which come with a varied distance and greater height in the high hurdles – has significant challenges. But overcoming both the physical and mental obstacles, Mills said, has been enjoyable.
“It’s really fun (and) … at the same time, I feel like it makes you get even better even though they’re kind of different,” Mills said. “The relationship [Brown] and I have is great; we keep pushing each other to get better and hit new times.”
The recent Gloucester County Championship title was the Minutemen’s first since 2008, and head coach Chris Mitchell said it was a big thing to finally reclaim. The team’s recent success, he added, can be attributed to the development of a full team across all areas of track and field.
“We’ve always had a good program and good athletes, but we’ve never seemed to have a full team,” said Mitchell, who’s in his ninth season as head coach. “I knew coming into this year though that this could be a different season, and I give a lot of praise to football coach Mike Schatzman, because he’s done a good job tearing down a wall that was between the football and track team and helped encourage football players to come out.
“And that’s helped us the past few years.”