mary kathryn carpenter   The Natchez Democrat Shamarra Grover, sophomore at Natchez High School, warms up for practice at the school Friday in preparation for the State track meet on Monday.
mary kathryn carpenter
The Natchez Democrat
Shamarra Grover, sophomore at Natchez High School, warms up for practice at the school Friday in preparation for the State track meet on Monday.

Despite rain, Natchez High athletes prepare for state meet

Published 12:04am Saturday, May 10, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School track and field team has its eye on the prize, as the team’s athletes get ready for the MHSAA Class 5A state meet Monday in Pearl.

Practice has gotten more intense for the athletes this week, but everyone was up for the challenge, head coach Larry Wesley said.

Friday was no different. Though it rained most of the day and the track was damp, the Bulldogs still had practice.

Sophomore athlete Shamarra Grover said she knew the rain wouldn’t hold them back.

“We knew we would have practice,” Grover said. “We would run in the rain if we have to. We weren’t going to let the rain stop us.”

Wesley brought his athletes into the school’s multi-purpose building in their blue windbreakers and got creative with his practice scheme.

Wesley measured the circumference of the room to figure out how much his athletes would run. He sat out cones on top of the green carpet to show how far each point was and a mat in the corner to imitate the sand pit his long jump and high jumpers dive into.

His relay teams brought the batons out to work on perfecting their hand offs.

With Natchez High coming off a South State title, Wesley said there wasn’t much more physical preparation his athletes could do, it was all about getting their minds ready for the ultimate competition.

Wesley knows a win in the state meet will give much more than instant gratification.

“It’s important at a young age to try to win so when they come together again (years later), they have something to talk about,” Wesley said. “Experiences like this really takes them through life more than you imagine.

“Once they look back and see what they’ve accomplished, they’ll appreciate it.”

Sophomore athlete Zyaire Ewing knows the results of the state meet can stick with an athlete a long time — she still remembers her outing from last year’s meet.

“I felt like I did terrible, but that was my freshman year,” Ewing said. “I honestly think I will do much better.”

But Ewing said she wouldn’t take the negative memory to Pearl with her. Instead, she will use it as motivation to redeem herself.

Ewing will compete in the high jump, the 4×200-meter and the 4×400-meter relays.

Grover has had her best year to date in the 300-meter hurdles.

She won first place in the district, regional and South State meets, and hopes to bring that momentum into the state meet.

“This year has been excellent, we have been working extra herd,” Grover said. “We had a goal at the beginning of the year and now that we made it to state and we want to dominate.”

The Bulldogs leave for Pearl Monday morning before the meet begins at 11 a.m.