Two Natchez track athletes win top honors at National Junior Olympics

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 5, 2001

The best eight athletes in the country stood on the podium for every event at the National Junior Olympics in Sacramento last weekend. And two Natchez Track Club members get to say they were among that bunch.

Kedrick Gibbons and Darius Edwards went to the finals of their respective events and brought home finals medals. Edwards finished in sixth place in the 400m hurdles in a time of 56.29, which was his personal best. Gibbons collected two medals, one for placing third in the long jump and one for sixth place in the triple jump.

&uot;When you’re up on that medal stand, it’s good to say that I was one of the top eight in the nation,&uot; said coach Henry &uot;Doc&uot; Woods. &uot;It’s truly an honor.&uot;

Edwards ran in the fourth heat and won it, which advanced him to the finals. Unfortunately, he drew lane one, which he said is &uot;one of the worst lanes on the track.&uot; Still, Edwards flew to his personal best time.

&uot;It was a wonderful, wonderful experience, just to be able to go and make friends,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;That was really special to me.&uot;

Gibbons went in as an underdog, being ranked 21st in the triple jump and 15th in the long jump. But Gibbons came up with two of his best performances. In his long jump flight, Gibbons finished in first place to advance to the finals. The jumper in front of Gibbons jumped 23-11, which Gibbons said he knew he couldn’t beat.

&uot;I knew I could come in second,&uot; said Gibbons of his final jump. &uot;On the long jump, I was nervous. I got on the runway, started running, felt the rhythm and jumped.&uot; He ended up in third with a mark of 22-7.

&uot;Now they know about me,&uot; Gibbons said of his bump in the rankings from 15th to sixth.

In the triple jump, Gibbons captured sixth with a bound of 44-6.

Both Edwards and Gibbons enjoyed the tougher competition at the nationals. They said it made them work harder.

&uot;It was a lot more competition that usual,&uot; Edwards said. &uot;We were a lot more alike.&uot;

&uot;Coming from Natchez and running track in high school, you never had the competition like that,&uot; Gibbons said.

Edwards plans on running cross country for Natchez High this fall. Gibbons said he will probably play football at Natchez.