NHS eyes state track title

Published 11:58 pm Monday, April 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — So close, and yet, so far away.

That’s how Natchez High School track coach Larry Wesley described his team’s bid for a state championship last year.

“We were one baton away from winning state,” Wesley said. “I was so sick last year after that, I didn’t know what to do.”

But with a new year brings a new opportunity, and Wesley said he feels good about his team’s chances to go all the way this season. That quest begins today in Jackson, where the Bulldogs will take part in their district meet.

The meet will include Natchez, Wingfield, Terry and Jim Hill, and Wesley said he expects his athletes to compete at a high level in several different categories.

“The long jump, the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, and definitely the shot put, we expect to do well in all of those areas,” Wesley said.

“We’ve been great with the shot put. The last couple of meets we’ve been to, we’ve placed first or second in the shot put.”

Junior Justin Hamilton, who is also a lineman for the football team, said playing football has helped develop his abilities as a shot putter.

“On the football team, I have to have strength and agility on the line, and have good footwork,” Hamilton said.

“That helps get my feet better for the shot put. You have to have good footwork and balance, because if you don’t, you’ll fall.”

Junior Cornelious Redden said he’s seen massive improvement from his freshman year with the shot put, but hasn’t quite grasped throwing the discus.

“I started doing the shot put in eighth grade, but didn’t do it in ninth grade,” Redden said. “I picked it back up last year. When I started, I was throwing 38 feet, and now I throw 45.

“I never was good in discus, though — I never could get the form right. I have improved enough to where, if I had to throw it (today), I’d do better with it than I was doing. But, I’m pretty sure Coach Wesley has enough athletes to throw discus to where I won’t have to.”

Winning a state championship is of utmost importance to junior Jeremy Davis. Davis, who will compete in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash, and the long jump, said last year’s disappointment is still fresh on his mind.

“We could have won it easily,” Davis said. “We just have to work harder than last year, come back and try to win it. People are just going to have to step up and make sure they don’t do anything wrong.”

Hamilton also said winning a state championship was really important to him.

“I’d love to have one, because Natchez hasn’t won one in a while,” Hamilton said.