Layla Haynes comes to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for her junior year of high school from the Caribbean island nation of Barbados. An age group middle distance track star for years including qualifying to compete at the Carifta Games representing her country at the age of 13, Haynes made an instant impact on her new team and surroundings here in the United States in winning the Lehigh Lightning Invitational against last week's winner at the Dunbar Tiger Jamboree and current 5K state leader Ava Povich of Evangelical Christian with a 19:16 performance.
An incredible run considering that Haynes does not have much cross country racing experience, especially at the 5K distance. She primarily raced from 800 meters to 3000 meters range on the track in Barbados prior with PR's of 2:14 in the 800 4:42 in the 1500, and 10:27 in the 3K.
She was exposed and learned about IMG Academy after attending a track & field camp in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic shut down the next plans of attending the school in 2020 until 3 weeks ago when she joined the team for a training camp in Flagstaff before moving into on campus.
The well-spoken and clearly articulate young lady is already embracing the new environment, team, school, and living in the United States while missing her supportive parents, family, friends, and community back home in Barbados.
She has an excellent group of training partners as well at IMG Academy to continue her progression as an athlete including her roommate Jais Ward at the boarding school as well as past Foot Locker All-Americans in Tatum David and Carly McNatt. With the addition of Haynes, IMG Academy could potentially be the best team in Florida if all healthy and full strength (David was shut down during track season and easing back later this fall from injury), while ranked #19 nationally in the preseason by MileSplit.