Senior sprinter Washington may be Bulldogs’ next triple threat in track

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Up there on a shelf is where you may find what’s got those returning to Natchez High’s boys’ track program just in absolute awe.

They are Kedrieck Gibbons’ shoes, and no one is about to figure out how to fill them. Like Janice Davis on the girls’ side before him, Gibbons left a legacy last year of a supernatural on the track and gave NHS head coach Larry Wesley plenty of inspiration for T-shirts this spring.

It’s a simple slogan, really &045; Pass It On.

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Today the Bulldogs will pass it on for the first time at the West Feliciana (La.) meet as high school track and field begins in the Miss-Lou.

&uot;I don’t know if I can fill his shoes, but I guess coach is looking for me to step up a little bit,&uot; said sprinter Travis Washington, the defending state champ in the 400 who is out to make some noise in the 100 and 200. &uot;I’ll try to fit in the same way. Basically everything (came from him) &045; trying to get his technique down and seeing how he does it. But I’d say it’s a good pressure to keep pushing. We’re the seniors now.&uot;

It’s the pressure to keep success going in a program that’s known almost nothing but that in years past. Gibbons did so much for the boys’ team the last four seasons, including legs on the relay and absolutely dominating in hurdles, and it’s up to Washington and Travis Graves to keep it going.

They’re the only two seniors this spring for the Bulldogs.

&uot;It’s definitely up to those two seniors,&uot; Wesley said. &uot;Travis has always been a good athlete, but he’s stayed back. But this will be an outstanding year for him. Between (Gibbons) and Janice Davis, they meant so much to this program, this school and this community. Even Tanieka Hill and Lexi Washington, they did a good job. The guys before you and the guys behind you, that says something about your program.

&uot;I’ve had Travis since the seventh grade. His confidence is way up there. He’s going to have a real good, super year this year.&uot;

Washington is like just about everyone else on the Bulldogs &045; he isn’t about to say he can do all the things that Gibbons did. But he was a state champion last year, too, and that’s what his focus is on this spring.

The speedy little Washington, who started at running back in football wants to at least get into the state meet in the three events this season after coming up one place short of qualifying in both the 100 and 200 last season.

&uot;I’ve been working on it,&uot; Washington said. &uot;Mostly I’ve been trying to work on the 400 and seeing if I can hold the 400 title. It would be nice for me if I could get a title in the 100. It would be nice, and I’m working on that, too.&uot;

Yet he’s not taking away from his marquee race, one that put him on the winner’s stand last May in Pearl coming up second in South State. He may have run his best time in the 400 at the state meet in 50.16 seconds, but he’s shooting for a sub-50 time this year to really blow away the competition.

He just has to improve on the little details of running that 400 &045; running the curves, the stamina for the final 100 and getting out of the blocks strong.

&uot;I think I can drop it at least to a 48 by the time state comes &045; a 49 or a 48,&uot; Washington said. &uot;It’s a mind race, really. It’s all about running and putting in your mind I know I can do it. The last stretch is the hardest. Every muscle in my body will be aching.&uot;

Washington came up short in the 100 and 200 at South State last spring when he came in sixth in the 100 in 11.28 seconds. But he’s taken strides to get those times down in indoors by running the 60 meters and is trying to just get stronger to get out of the blocks faster and drop his times.

Which, by the way, benefits his stamina in the 400.

&uot;Between the football program and his work ethic, he could hit it this year (in the 400),&uot; Wesley said. &uot;In indoors he hit 52 or 53. When you hit 52 or 53 in indoors, you’ll hit 40s in outdoor. I think it’s just a matter of him getting stronger and confident (in the 100 and 200). Track and field is all mental.&uot;