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James places first in triple jump at LSU meet

Natchez High School senior Amos James III took first place in the triple jump last Saturday at the Louisiana State University High School Classic indoor track meet in Baton Rouge where he competed against jumpers from around the region. James also set his personal record with a jump of 46 feet 3 inches. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Having already gotten three first-place finishes to his name, Amos James picked a big stage to get his fourth top mark.

The Natchez High School senior competed with the rest of the school’s indoor track team at the LSU High School Indoor Classic this past Saturday. The meet featured both high school and club teams from all over the South, and James outshined everyone in the boys triple jump.

With a distance of 46.3 feet, James placed No. 1 overall in the event. Last season, James finished first in the 300-meter hurdles at the district meet, first in the high jump at the regional meet and first in the 110-meter hurdles at the South State meet. This was his first time to place first at the LSU meet, which NHS participates in annually.

“It was really exciting to come in first at a big track meet,” James said. “According to the track clubs (that participated), they select the best athletes from their area. Going against the best and being able to win, that says a lot.”

James also said he topped an athlete from Madison-Central High School, Barclay Angle, that beat him in the boys triple jump at the MHSAA state championship meet last season, in which James placed fourth.

“It was exciting,” James said. “It lets me know I’ve been working hard and have gotten better.”

NHS track coach Larry Wesley said he was very happy to see one of his athletes stand out against the top-notch competition at the LSU meet.

“He also placed fifth in the 55-meter hurdles (at 7.83 seconds),” Wesley said. “It’s always good to finish first in anything at the LSU meet, because we’re competing against some of the best in the South.”

With a No. 1 finish so early in the indoor season, James insisted that he’s not going to get complacent, especially since Angle will be gunning for him going forward.

“I still think that it wasn’t enough,” Angle said. “He saw what I can do, and he’ll want to come back and work harder, so I’ve always got to try and get better.”

After playing football in the fall, James said staying active helped make a smooth transition when track and field season began.

“We did a lot of running after practice, and it kept me halfway in shape,” James said. “We also did a lot of speed drills and lifted weights to keep my legs strong.”

And since James beat athletes that practice track year round, he said it was a testament to his mental strength.

“To say that I had paused and came back, it shows if you can put your mind to it, you can do it,” James said.

The No. 1 finish in the triple jump now gives James a top mark in each of the four track and field events that he competes in. While he said it was neat to have a first-place finish in all four, he’s still not satisfied.

“It would be even better if I could get first in all four events at the same time,” James said.

James began track and field in 10th grade after people had been telling him for years he needed to run track, he said.

“Coach (Wesley) found me something to do, and ever since then, I’ve been good at it,” James said.

Wesley said James is one of the hardest-working athletes on the team.

“He’s determined, and he has a love for track and being an athlete,” Wesley said. “He always goes full speed at practice — he never takes a break.”

James is the son of Angela and Amos James II.