Local teams doing well in postseason

Published 12:25 am Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Will the McNairs never quit playing football and baseball at Mount Olive High School? Now that the great Steve (Air) McNair has retired from the National Football League and will be available to watch and inspire this generation of athletes at Mount Olive, that outfit will be even harder for opponents to overcome.

In Cathedral’s disappointing 12-11 loss to Mount Olive in the baseball playoffs Saturday, a McNair was the winning pitcher and also led his team at the plate with four base hits.

Another McNair contributed a double, and yet another McNair chipped in with two base hits.

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Of the 10 Miss-Lou baseball and softball teams in playoff action, I could find only Cathedral’s result and Jefferson County’s two losses in Sunday’s results.

Of course, the results of games played by most of the area private school teams are not available to me. Hopefully, the area teams will be successful in playoff action and several might move on toward possible State Championships.

I have noticed that several Natchez High and Cathedral athletes have qualified for South State action in track, and Cathedral’s tennis team will be in action in the Mississippi Division 1A Tennis meet in early May.

Happily, one of my granddaughters, seventh-grader Taylor Beesley, is a member of that Cathedral team. Her Mother, Margaret, coaches the Natchez High tennis team, and I do not yet know how they have fared in post-season play.

Cathedral has always fielded a strong tennis team, and their trophy case is filled with State Championship hardware. Natchez High Coach Margaret was a member of one of those championship teams.

While on track, I was not surprised to note that Cathedral’s Region track meet was held at St. Andrews. Cathedral has never had a track, while the track at Natchez High is several decades old.

When that track was built in the 1960s, it was a Red Dog surface, and at that time was state of the art. Earlier tracks (including my high school track) were made of crushed cinders, and were mighty tough on anyone who fell during a race.

Even the track at Georgia Tech, where my high school conference met was held, was cinder. As an example of what the composition surfaces now used mean, in my time, the national high school record in the 880 (half mile, now the 800 meters) run was about 1:57.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pearl’s George Kersh ran the race in 1:47. Much of the improvement can be attributed to training and technique, but the improved surfaces contribute much to that improvement.

Along with St Andrews, Pearl’s track is state of the art. Both facilities are completely stand-alone, which means that (unlike most high school tracks) they do not enclose a football or soccer field.

Both of those schools have growing school-age populations and generate strong financial support. The emphasis on track has changed over the years.

In the 1940s and 1950s, most Southeastern Conference college relay teams were made up of football players that the coaches wanted to run to help their speed. Now, the combination football-track athlete is not unheard of, but is rare.

By the time this hits the streets Cathedral’s baseball quest will have continued or ended (barring rain, of course.) Hopefully, the Greenies will remain in the chase.

And, That’s Official.

Al Graning can be reached by e-mail at AlanWard39157@aol.com.