By Reed DeSalvo \ The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star
The Meridian High School track program will honor 22 seniors competing in their final home meet today with its traditional senior day.
The 22 student-athletes have accomplished a great deal in their time on the MHS track, including a 2011 class 6A boys state championship, and the girl’s team currently boasts fist place finishes in all six of its meets.
Yet Saturday will mark a special day for a 23rd senior who will be honored but not competing, whose track career tragically came to an end too soon.
Keyaurdra “Yoshi” Davis was struck in the back by a stray bullet in the summer at Highland Park in the summer of 2012, paralyzing him from the waist down.
“He was the best,” said Meridian track coach Reggie Walker, who coached Davis since middle school. “He’s one of the fastest and one of the greatest to ever lace them on the Meridian High track.”
Davis earned the nickname “Yoshi” his family, after routinely racing around the house as a child.
“I used to run around the house a lot as a kid,” Davis said. “So they gave me the name ‘Yoshi’ after the ‘Super Mario’ video game.”
Davis, a member of the 2011 boys state championship squad, boasts best times of a 10.9 100-meter dash and a 22.1 200 as a sophomore.
“He was well on his way to a Division I scholarship,” Walker said. “He was just that good. He’s the fastest kid that I’ve ever coached.
“He wanted to be great. He told me at the end of his seventh grade year that since he didn’t get MVP, he said that, ‘I’m going to be the best kid you ever coached.’”
Eddie Cole, a senior and friend of Davis, recalled the evening in which the incident occurred.
“I just started crying,” Cole said. “I called (Yoshi), but I didn’t get an answer. It’s a hard feeling. He wasn’t just a teammate; he’s a brother to me.”
Despite being unable to compete with his fellow seniors, Davis has maintained a profound effect on his former teammates.
“All of our meets are based on Yoshi,” senior Qasim Banks said. “When we are in the huddle, coach Walker is always telling us that if we aren’t going to give it our all, he knows of one man who would if he still could.”
While Davis is proud to represent MHS on senior day, the task will prove to be a difficult moment when he is honored among his peers.
“It will be kind of hard,” Davis said. “I miss it. I miss the days where I could be out there.”
On the track and in the midst of competition, the Wildcats continue to carry a heavy heat.
“Every time I run, I think about Yoshi,” Antonio Owens said.
Added Cole, “When things get hard, I think about him. I know he would give anything to be out there competing.”
However, Davis does not allow for the heartbreaking incident to hinder his personality.
“He’s still the same old Yoshi,” Banks said. “He’s still himself.”
Added Owens, “He’s gotten even funnier. He always tells us to give it our best and that we got to win state this year.”
Though Davis has been dealt a difficult hand, adversity has never been one to deter him.
“I don’t give up on anything,” Davis said.
Walker and the rest of the boy’s track squad said this year’s track season is dedicated to Davis, in the hopes of potentially claiming another state championship.
“I don’t think words can explain how I feel about them doing that for me,” Davis said. “I wish I could be out there with them, so that we could do it together.”
Ultimately, Davis has proven to fill a pivotal role on the squad in serving as an inspiration to all.
“He deserves some acclaim to our success,” Walker said. “He’s still in our hearts and keeps pushing us forward. He still has an impact on this team.”