Corder: Gibbons goes for it all today

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

As if Natchez High senior hurdler Kedrieck Gibbons needed any more help.

The state championships; the undefeated streak; a sign, sealed and delivered commitment to the University of South Carolina; feet and legs dipped in gold &045; doesn’t the young man have enough to make the guards at Buckingham Palace shake in their boots.

Apparently not. Opponents have this perception of Gibbons as a schizophrenic. When he lines up in the block before each race, Gibbons goes all Karl Malone at the free-throw line and begins uttering something to himself.

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But contrary to his rivals’ beliefs that Gibbons needs to be committed, the state’s fastest hurdler is just going through his pre-race routine. And he’ll do it again at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state meet in Pearl today.

What Gibbons actually says is this: &uot;Without you Lord I wouldn’t be able to do this. So give me the strength and power to win this race.&uot;

Gibbons looked rather omniscient Thursday during his last practice as a Bulldog on the blue-gold track where he made a name for himself for the last three years.

With a frayed t-shirt, he joked with his teammates, ribbed his head coach Larry Wesley and never showed any signs of fear.

Gibbons is seemingly in a catch-22 situation. He wins and so what’s the surprise here? He loses and, well, Chicken Little the sky is falling.

An enormous amount of pressure to put on a teenager’s shoulders. Right?

&uot;Everything will fall into place. All I’m thinking about is getting through the races,&uot; said Gibbons, who is expected to mop up in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, as well as the long jump, which he won state in last year. &uot;There’s no pressure this year. I’ve worked so hard on it. With my strength and through God, I can’t be beat.&uot;

Gibbons, who is also set to be an integral part of the Bulldog relay teams, never ran the 300 before this year.

However, Gibbons had a summer window to adjust to the 300. Running independently at USA Track and Field events, Gibbons participated in the 400-meter hurdles and routinely posted times that would’ve overmatched his high school colleagues in the 300.

&uot;Once I get into the block, I know it’s over,&uot; he said. &uot;You can’t look at a person as being arrogant in track. I don’t see it as being an individual thing unless I’m in a meet by myself. I don’t get a big head about it because I’m running for my team.&uot;

That attitude has served him well to this point. He’ll carry the third fastest high school time (13.80) in the country in to today’s 110 hurdles.

If he can duplicate that mark, which he set at the Division 6 District 6 meet at Vicksburg last month, he’ll leave 14.05, the old mark, set by Tupelo’s Deandre Eiland, in the dust.

&uot;My most memorable moment would be this meet if I’m able to take the long jump and the hurdles,&uot; Gibbons said.

The rest of the field doesn’t have a prayer.

Chuck Corder

is a sports writer for The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at (601) 445-3633 or by e-mail at