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Jefferson County succeeds at state track

FAYETTE — Not having a home track to practice on didn’t stop Jefferson County High School’s boys and girls track team from finishing the race strongly.

Both teams made it to the Class 3A state championship at Pearl High School May 14. For the girls, it was their first ever appearance at the state track meet.

Brandy Buck, Keiana Earls, Shakeysha Earls, Taylor Mims and Destiny young competed in the 200 and 400-meter relays for the Lady Tigers. Although they didn’t finish in the top three overall, Lady Tigers coach Flora McKnight said the accomplishment was a major breakthrough for her program.

“We placed fifth, and didn’t do as well as we expected, but all my girls will be back next year,” McKnight said.

“We don’t have the facilities like most schools do, so we just work hard. The young ladies come to practice every day, and work really hard, both academically and on the field. These young ladies are at the top of their class.”

As for the boys, a second-place finish and a tying of a Class 3A record in the 100-meter relay capped off a solid season for the Tigers.

The boys ran the 100-meterrelay in 42.14 seconds, which ties Port Gibson’s 100-meter relay time in 1987. As is the case with the girls, the boys team also has to overcome a lack of facilities with hard work.

“We only had seven guys, and got second place overall in six events,” boys coach Patrice West said.

“All I have to say is, we basically work hard, simply because people think we can’t do anything because we don’t have a track. I preach to them to stay humble and let your work show, and that’s pretty much what we go by.”

And a lot of extra learning goes into it for the Tigers athletes, West said.

“The challenge we face is not being able to show my players their exact marker. I have to pretty much teach them the layout of the track, and what you can and cannot do at a meet.

“They’ve responded well to what I show them. We improvise. During relay practices, we use tennis balls and cones so they can see their markers, and I convert the meters of a track to the yards on the football field, where we practice.”

And the work paid off, with the Tigers tallying 54 in the overall competition at state, second to Corinth High School. Jefferson County’s Robert Wells got first place in the 200-meter dash, and came in second in the 100-meter dash.

In addition, the Tigers’ relay team, which includes Kawiski Tenner, Jerry Nichols, Robert Wells and Derontae Sanxton, placed first in the 100 and 200-meter relay.

Tenner competed in the discus throw, and came in second place. Michael Felton and Johntae Doss competed with Sanxton and Nichols on the 400-meter relay team, which finished sixth. Jadarius Thomas made the trip as an alternate.

“They’re all coming back next year, and they’re hungry. Most of them are running summer league right now, so there’s no rest for them,” West said.

All of the girls will be back next season, and McKnight said she thinks they’ll be eager to do even better.

“Since they have the experience (of a state championship) under their belt, I know they’ll be ready and eager to go back and work hard,” she said.

West said he wanted to thank volunteer coach Benta Thomas from Natchez for helping out with the boys.

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