Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

JACKSON &045; Even though the numbers were in their favor, Natchez High’s girls’ track squad felt the heat with just two meets left.

With only the 200 and the mile relay left Saturday at the MHSAA Class 5A meet at Hughes Field in Jackson, the Lady Bulldogs sat tied with Gulfport with 98 points.

That’s when Janice Davis and Taji Dorsey turned the tide. Everyone expected Davis to win it &045; which she did &045; but Dorsey came up big in third place.

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Two of the top three finishes, along with a first-place finish in the mile relay, helped the Lady Bulldogs win a state title for a third straight year. They outscored Gulfport 117-104.

The boys’ squad finished second.

&uot;It made me run a little bit harder because we knew we wanted to win state,&uot; Dorsey said. &uot;And it depended on it. We beat them last week, and we knew we could do it this week.&uot;

Davis won it in 24.41 seconds, and Dorsey was third in 25.67 seconds to help offset Gulfport distance runner Nikitta Smith’s first place finish in the 800 &045; one of her three firsts on the day.

&uot;The 200 did it for us,&uot;&160;NHS head coach Larry Wesley said. &uot;We had a good feeling after that race. I mentioned last week I knew we could sweep the relays. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this many state winners.&uot;

The mile relay team finished the sweep as the team of Ke’Airra Jones, Lexi Washington, Tanieka Hill and Janice Davis won it in 4:05.04 with Gulfport finishing second in 4:13.01.

The Lady Bulldogs notched five other first-place finishes, but the biggest may have come from Hill, whose time of 44.43 seconds in the 300 hurdles broke the old Class 5A mark of 44.64 seconds set by Michelle Hartzog of Jim Hill back in 1985.

The mark was tied by Tonia Williams of Grenada a year later.

&uot;It surprised me,&uot;&160;said Hill, who finished in under 45 seconds for the first time. &uot;That (Warren Central) girl was close to me in the 300, but she ran hard. I had to dig deep for that one. I had to dig deep on the last two hurdles.&uot;

Hill also won the 100 hurdles in 15.22 seconds.

&uot;I’ll be honest with you &045; she has come a long way,&uot; Wesley said.&160;&uot;When I first introduced her to that event, we had a big-time fight. This year she ran hard and doubled up (firsts). Now she says, ‘Thank you, Coach Wesley.’&uot;

Davis finished off her prep career with another triple winner along with running a leg on the relays. She won the 100 in 11.75 seconds and the 400 in 54.80 seconds.

&uot;All I can tell you is this &045; she finished in good style,&uot; Wesley said. &uot;For her to win four years in a row &045;&160;I’ve yet to see somebody do that, and I will be looking to see if anybody can do that. Going out in style, and thanks for the memories. Everybody came out to see her.&uot;

Others girls’ results were: the 800 relay in 1:42.82, Jones in third in the high jump at 5-4 and fourth in the 400 in 58.17 seconds, Washington in fifth in the high at 5-2 and third in the triple jump at 37-2 1/2, Dorsey in seventh in the triple at 35-8 1/2, Dorsey in third in the long at 17-10, LaColony Oliver in seventh in the 800 in 2:38.49 and the 400 relay in first in 49.14 seconds.

The boys’ squad, meanwhile, came up with a sweep of the relays as well but couldn’t overcome Brandon, who finished with 108 points to win the team title while Natchez posted 84 points.

&uot;They beat us in the field,&uot;&160;Wesley said.&160;&uot;We thought they would go down to about 40, but they got 60. That really hurt us. We scored what we needed to score, but we didn’t have any help.&uot;

Kendrick Gibbons had perhaps the biggest day with a with a first in the long jump at 23-1, a second in the triple at 47-2, a first in the 110 hurdles at 14.56 seconds and key legs on the relays.

&uot;Coming off last year in the long jump, that’s when he scratched out,&uot; Wesley said. &uot;This year he was determined to win it. In the hurdles his goal was setting a record, but it was real, real windy today. That was a factor.&uot;

Others results were Richard Blanton in second in the 100 in 11.00 seconds, the 800-relay team in first in 1:27.63, Karlecio Richardson in seventh in the 110 hurdles in 17.52 seconds, Chris Tenner in seventh in the mile in 5:09.14 and the 400 relay team in first in 42.03 seconds.

Richardson won the 300 hurdles in 38.82 seconds, Blanton was fifth in the 20 in 22.82 seconds and the mile relay team won it in 3:22.