Fryes unbeaten streak in tact in hurdles

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Underneath a quiet exterior and a small build is a desire to beat anyone who dares to line up next to her.

Natchez High sprinter Candace Frye doesn&8217;t like to lose. And she hasn&8217;t yet this spring.

Take the day she ran at the Southern Miss High School Invitational up against her toughest competition all spring in East Central hurdler Jonnie Borries. Frye won the 100-meter hurdles race in 15.49 seconds with Borries right on her heels at 16.09 seconds.

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And then there was the meet at Mississippi State where she pulled in first at 15.63 seconds with Candace Gaskin of Central Tuscaloosa, Ala., right behind her at 15.93.

She&8217;s quiet, all right, until the starter&8217;s gun is fired. Frye will put her unbeaten streak on the line today when Natchez High&8217;s track team travels to Hattiesburg for the regional meet.

&8220;I like running against people that will push me,&8221; said Frye, who will also go Saturday in the 100 and the long jump. &8220;(Borries) was real close on me in the 100 but not the 300. I wish I could do better. Even though I&8217;m winning, I wish I could do better than that.&8221;

That she&8217;s done, but best of luck getting her to wax on for hours about it. She ran possibly her best time of the season in the 100 hurdles at 15.43 seconds &8212; she ran 15.63 at Mississippi State and 15.49 at Southern Miss &8212; to prime for the big meets in the coming weeks.

The state meet will be in two weeks, and that&8217;s what Frye has her sights set on.

&8220;Humble, but tough,&8221; NHS head coach Larry Wesley said. &8220;You know something, kids like that &8212; I love them. She doesn&8217;t talk much. She puts all her heart into the game and on the field. I love her for that, and she does well.&8221;

And she&8217;s another at Natchez High who stars in track despite not having that typical hurdler&8217;s build. Frye has the quickness &8212; she and Ke&8217;Airra Jones went 1-2 in the 100 meters at district and may do the same Saturday &8212; but doesn&8217;t have the long legs or height hurdles commonly have.

Combine that with a quiet demeanor, and you&8217;ve got to pity anyone who doesn&8217;t know any better lining up in the blocks against Frye.

&8220;A lot of it is you have to practice on your own by yourself,&8221; Wesley said. &8220;She has really done a lot on her own. The first two years I had her here, I fussed at her a lott. She came behind a good hurdler in Tanieka Hill. After you see them, hey, what can I tell you?

&8220;When you have children in track and field, everything they try to do, they try to excel in. Anything she tries to do, she tries to do her best.&8221;

That&8217;s why Frye lamented over losing to Jones in the 100 at district. It may have answered the question of who is the fastest among the two elite female athletes at Natchez High, but Frye couldn&8217;t stand the time she ran.

Jones won the race in 13.07, while Frye finished behind her at 13.17.

&8220;I want to get down in the 11s, but I&8217;ll work hard to get it to a low 12 or a high 12,&8221; Frye said. &8220;I ran a 13.17 at district and was like, &8216;What&8217;s wrong with me?&8217; That was my slowest time ever.&8221;

It&8217;s all coming after she sat out the McComb meet prior to district due to a pulled hamstring at the Mississippi State meet.

But her times in the hurdles events are well in good standings, and those two events are her better events. She&8217;s the defending Class 5A state champ in both hurdles events, although she missed out on a new state record last season &8212; she ran a 44.93 in the 300, the best mark being 44.44 seconds.

But going back to the competition she&8217;s faced this season, it can&8217;t do anything but help. Frye went into the state meet with only one loss last season, and this time it&8217;s different.

&8220;It&8217;s the will to win &8212; that&8217;s all I can tell you,&8221; Wesley said. &8220;At Southern Miss, she barely beat her. She won at State because she knew what to expect. She won hands down. I think she&8217;s ranked No. 2 in the country. I&8217;m trying to make her a better sprinter, and that&8217;ll make her a better hurdler.&8221;

In order to be a better hurdler, Frye said, she&8217;s got to get her finish down. She&8217;s got the quickness to get out of the block as fast as anyone. And now is the time to get better. She and Jones are the key players on a team that&8217;s shooting for a sixth straight state championship.

&8220;Make a mistake in the 100 hurdles, (and it&8217;s over),&8221; Frye said. &8220;In the 300, you&8217;ve got time to make it up. It&8217;s the finishing part (I&8217;m working on). I&8217;ve got a good start. I really want to win state again. I try to show the ones coming up to do their best and practice hard at practice.&8221;