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NHS on the right ‘track’

NATCHEZ — It’s no longer just a new track that’s illustrating Larry Wesley’s slogan that track is back.

The Natchez High School track team’s performance in recent weeks has the school’s track head coach excited about the present state — and future — of his program.

NHS has come in first overall in its last three meets: one it hosted, one hosted at West Feliciana High School and one hosted by Vicksburg High School. At 9:45 this morning, NHS will go for four in a row at Wilkinson County High School.

“All the children have bought into the program,” Wesley said. “Everyone wants to run hard and do well.”

The boys have placed first in all three meets, and Wesley said he’s especially impressed with his girls, since he doesn’t have any upper classmen on his female squad.

“The girls go from eighth to 10th grade, and they placed second in Vicksburg, won our invitational meet and placed fifth at West Feliciana,” Wesley said. “That’s pretty good for their age group.”

Eighth grader Kenya Davis, who competes in the 3,200-meter run, the 1,600-meter run and the open 800, said being young is a balancing act.

“I’m confident, but sometimes I get intimidated, because the other girls are bigger,” she said.

Since Davis’ events are long-distance ones, she said she reserves her burst speed until the finish is in sight.

“I keep my pace and sprint at the end,” she said. “I know I have what it takes to pull ahead in the end.”

Senior Justin Hamilton competes in the shot put, and has won every meet he’s been at except the West Feliciana one, he said.

“The other guy threw it 46 inches, and I threw it 45 inches,” he said. “(My throw) got away from me a little bit.”

Hamilton said he worked on his throwing mechanics in order to have a senior year to remember.

“I worked on my turnaround with my hips and my kick, and that’s helped a lot this year,” he said. “I wanted to go out on a high note, and I want to finish at least in the top three in the state this year.”

Amos James won the boys’ MVP at the Vicksburg meet last week. James competes in the 110-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles, the 4X400-meter relay and the high jump.

“It was a real honor to win MVP, it being my first year running track,” James said. “I just had my mind set and was ready to do it.”

James said his strength in jumping stems from the shape his legs are in.

“I do a lot of exercise with my legs, and they’re mostly the strongest part of my body,” he said.

Sophomore Emmanuel Griffin, who competes in the 4X400-meter relay, said track is the only sport he competes in.

“There’s a lot of stuff you can do in track,” Griffin said. “You can be around a lot of people, and they’re like one big family that helps motivate you and build you up. Plus, I just love running.”

And Griffin’s growth as a runner comes from simple principles Wesley has taught him.

“I just do my hardest in races and do what my coach tells me,” Griffin said. “No matter what place you finish in, if you work hard and try your best, everything will out.”

Wesley said his team’s performance so far this season has helped put it in the spotlight.

“We have an opportunity to do better than we have recently,” Wesley said. “The new track also boosts the program, because parents can come out and see their child.

“Even if they win or lose, there’s nothing like seeing your child (in person at home). It’s all about the children having fun and enjoying themselves.”

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