When Mikiah Brisco was a precocious 9-year-old, she told her father she beat the boys in her class.
A bowl of popcorn and TV night provided an unlikely backdrop for then-middle schooler Rachel Misher to tell her father she wanted to run track.
So is it poetic or genetic? Perhaps a bit of both.
Former LSU hurdler Allen Misher and ex-Southern University and McKinley jumps specialist Leroy Brisco won’t say. They just smile when asked about the exploits of their daughters.
“I’m proud of Rachel in everything she does,” Misher said. “She’s always been a child who would take a task and lock onto it until she masters it. She’s the fourth child out of six, and she’s the only one who chose track. She’s the one who’s carrying the torch.”
Typical Father’s Day stories revolve around sons who follow in the footsteps of athletic fathers. Brisco, a former Baton Rouge High standout bound for LSU, and Misher, a senior-to-be at Episcopal, offer a unique perspective, moving one fleet step at a time.
“She has remained humble and she’s still eager to get out there and get better,” Leroy Brisco said. “That’s what makes me the proudest of Mikiah.”
By the time she was beating the boys in her class, Brisco was familiar with track. Older sister Dominique, also a former BRHS star who now competes for the University of Houston, was already competing.
The Brisco sisters started going to track meets with their father. Leroy Brisco has worked as part of a timing crew that travels across Louisiana and to other states to work meets for more than a decade.
“We started going to meets with him and we wanted to run,” Brisco said. “I got started with a physical fitness meet at my school.
“Dominique was already running and she did everything. That’s how I got into the hurdles. One day at practice she was running hurdles, so I ran over a hurdle. My coach told me I was doing hurdles after that.”
Leroy Brisco recalls a different instance.
“We were at a church picnic and they were playing football,” he said. “They threw Mikiah the ball and she hit the sideline running and no one ever touched her. I thought it was a fluke. Then she did it a second time.”
There were no early childhood races for Misher — at least not until that fateful conversation over a bowl of popcorn.
“When I was younger I knew I was faster than most kids, but I never really thought ‘Hey, I’m going to run track,’ ” Misher said. “But I started to like it a lot in middle school, especially in the eighth grade.”
Allen Misher remembers asking his daughter what she wanted to do in middle school and was surprised by the answer.
The results were not as surprising, all things, including genetics, considered. Brisco and Misher competed together at Sherwood Middle Magnet School.
“I’ve always told her there’s some of me in you,” Allen Misher said. “And it’s great that she’s got to run with and against Mikiah. It’s important to have someone who can push you.”
Mikiah Brisco started winning state championships when she was a freshman at BRHS. She won the 100 and 200 meters that year.
Brisco won the 100 and 200 in Class 5A for four straight years and was a three-time champion in the 100 hurdles. Brisco holds 5A records in the 100 hurdles (13.87, set in 2013) and the 200 meters (24.07, 2014).
The 2014 indoor season provided a key highlight. After winning the 60-meter hurdles and 60 dash in times that ranked in the top five nationally, Brisco went to the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York and won the 60 meters in 7.26 seconds, the fastest time ever by a Louisiana girl and the sixth fastest ever run by a U.S. high school competitor.
“This year I think the New Balance Indoor meet was my favorite. I saw a lot of friends from the Worlds team (she competed on 2013) and I performed well,” she said.
The Brisco family will celebrate Father’s Day in Greensboro, North Carolina, site of the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. Mikiah Brisco ran a PR of 11.53 to place sixth in the 100 Saturday.
Misher sat out her freshman year at Episcopal because she lived outside the school’s attendance zone. Track-wise, she’s been in a zone since her sophomore season. Misher won the 100 and 200 meters races that year and was part of two winning relays.
It got even better this spring. Misher led the Knights to the Class 2A state title. She set a 2A record by winning the 100 in 11.73 and won the 200 in 24.64, just off the 2A mark.
Leroy Brisco is a fixture at most meets; Allen Misher is not because of his job at a local car dealership. He gets plenty of updates.
“My mom videos and she’s like, ‘Rachel, you’ve got to tell me how to send this to your Dad right now.’ I’ll be on the side of the track telling her what buttons to push,” Misher said. “He’s always super proud. We might be somewhere random and he’ll be watching my race again on his phone.”
Allen Misher came to LSU in 1972 after being a star hurdler at Houston’s Sterling High. He won the NCAA indoor title in the 60 hurdles in 1976 and placed third outdoors.
“Track gave me so much,” Allen Misher said. “When I got a chance to come here on a scholarship I felt like it was already a pretty good deal. Then I got to go to Germany, Poland and Russia to compete.”
A DVD dubbed to include some of her father’s races got that point across to Rachel Misher.
“We’ve always heard stories,” she said. “But to see it was something. It was stunning. I was like ‘Wow, that’s you, Dad.’ And he said ‘I was fast, Rachel.’ ”
Leroy Brisco was a running back and jumps specialist at McKinley. He netted all-parish honors in football and won a state title in the triple jump as a senior. From there, he went to Southern and had a personal best of 51 feet, 8 inches in the triple jump.
“He never talks about it,” Mikiah Brisco said. “I had to find out how good he was from newspaper clipping at my grandmother’s house. And then at track meets I’d have people come up and tell me ‘Oh, your Dad was really good.’ I didn’t believe them at first.”
She became a believer last month, just three days before the LHSAA state meet.
“He challenged me,” she said. “I was doing hurdles and he sprinted next to me and we were neck-and-neck. I was impressed.”
Mikiah Brisco’s future is set, though she is continuing to run in meets this summer.
“I feel like my track career is going to get even better (at LSU),” Brisco said. “Because I’m local, I’ll get support from my family and friends. They’ll be able to come to meets. The team is going to be good and the coaches are excellent.”
Misher has not done summer track, other than individual workouts. She’s set to play volleyball for the first time this fall and has been attending those practices, too. Colleges can’t extend scholarship offers until next month. Misher has received interest from LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Harvard.
“I want to get all my times down and target any of my weaknesses,” she said. “I want to aim for some records and prove myself.”
Both girls take the advice from their fathers seriously.
“My dad always has told me to have fun with what I do,” Brisco said. “There are days when I really don’t want to practice. Everybody has those. But I think the reason I’ve stayed with track and is because I’m still having fun.”
Misher adds, “My dad told me to do it because you love it, not because you’re good at it. And to always remember you love it.”