Natchez travels south for first meet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High indoor track team will take on a tough assignment for its first meet of the season.

The Bulldogs will travel 90 miles south to LSU to take on some of the best high school teams and clubs in the country in the LSU High School Indoor Classic Friday and Saturday.

“All the top competition in the country will be there,” said Natchez coach Larry Wesley. “They send the top seven to the finals, and we want to be in the finals.”

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Wesley said the Bulldogs are at a disadvantage because they are a team from one school, rather than a club made up of the best athletes from multiple schools.

He said this caliber of competition will act as a gauge for how well Natchez will do this year.

“Until I see how well they place, I don’t know what kind of team we have,” Wesley said. After one or two meets, then I can get an idea of how we’re going to be.”

Senior Ernest Jones, who did not compete in the LSU Indoor Classic last year because of a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament, finished fifth in the high jump at the state championship meet last year with a career-high jump of 6 feet, 2 inches.

He said he hopes to improve that height this weekend, and Wesley expects the same.

“It makes me fee real good that my coach expects me to do good,” said Jones, who is also running the 4x-200 relay and the open 400-meter run. “The (high jump) is competitive to me. I get real pumped up.”

Junior Alicia Wimley placed fourth at LSU in the triple jump last year, and she said she wants nothing less than first place this time around.

She’s also competing in the long jump, the 55-meter hurdles and the 4×400 relay.

Jessica Gail, a senior, prefers the 60-meter dash, although she’s also running the open 400-meters and the 4×400.

“Last year I placed in the top 60 so this year I want at least top 20,” Gails said. “My time has decreased a lot so I’m looking forward to running and showing out.

Wesley said the Bulldogs started practicing right after Thanksgiving and continued straight through the holiday, with just a couple days off.

He said this year’s indoor team is not predicted to be as good as in recent years, but he still has high expectations.

Wesley Pendleton is running the 55-meter dash and the 4×200 and 4×400-meter relays. The senior is also competing in the triple jump.

Pendleton, who said he competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes during summer track, has plenty of confidence in himself.

“I feel like I’m one of the fastest in the nation, and I’m really hoping to run a 6.5-(second 55-meter dash),” he said. “I ran summer track with all these guys so I feel like I can compete with them. I beat them before so I can do it again.”