By Mike Beas
Don’t look now, but Philadelphia-born Nayyir Newash-Campbell is two months removed from taking his life full-circle.
Or, shall we say, full-oval.
The recent Plainfield High School graduate, who earlier this month repeated as the 400-meter champion at the Boys State Track & Field Meet, will continue his academic and athletic pursuits at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Penn campus is located in Philly.
Newash-Campbell, who considers his finish his biggest strength in the 400, treated his Quakers career in such a fashion, his time of 46.98 seconds establishing a new State Meet standard (Merrillville senior David Neville is the only other 46er, his 46.99-second run in 2002 being the previous meet record).
Since 1980, the first season in which meters were used instead of yards in Indiana high school track and field, Newash-Campbell is only the fifth repeat 400-meter champion, joining Columbus North’s Lee Bridges (1984-85), Lawrence North’s Ryan Hayden (1988-89), Gary Wallace’s Robert Gardner (2007-08) and Indianapolis Marshall’s Stoney Prowell (2014-15).
As a junior, Newash-Campbell’s winning time was 47.45 seconds.
In all, he completed his prep track career as a seven-time State Meet medalist having also competed in the 200-meter dash and anchoring Plainfield’s 4×400 relay.
“Nayyir works at it. He likes to be good, and he wanted that state record,” said Plainfield coach Brian Pelkey. “He hasn’t been beat in the 400 since his sophomore year. But even when he was out for a week-and-a-half during the regular season with a back injury, he helped coach the team.”
Newash-Campbell, who established the state’s all-time fastest time (46.67) at the Plainfield Sectional, is also an outstanding student as evidenced by his 4.1 grade-point average.
He did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: The 400-meter dash is one of the sport’s most-difficult events. What do you love about it?
A: I would say the main thing is the feeling you have after the race. Kids tend to stay away from the 400, so that leaves some of the toughest people to do the event. It’s about being mentally strong enough to do it.
Q: What was your initial reaction when you saw your time of 46.98 seconds at the State Meet?
A: Honestly, I was kind of surprised because it definitely wasn’t my best race. It was really hot that day, and that race was after my 200 prelim race. It feels really amazing, and I can thank my coaches and my parents for helping me get there.
Q: Now that you’ve graduated from Plainfield High School, what are your future plans?
A: I’m going to the University of Pennsylvania. It will just set me up best education-wise, and I’m thinking of majoring in business.
Q: After securing a total of seven medals at the State Meet over the past three seasons, what would you like your athletic legacy to be at Plainfield High School?
A: I would definitely say I would like to be remembered, and for kids to understand they can have good grades and be a good athlete. I feel the classroom really helps me keep a balanced lifestyle.