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Natchez boys win track regionals meet, girls come in second

Natchez High School’s Malik Byrd runs away from the competition in the 300-meter hurdles during the regional track and field meet at Natchez High School. Byrd’s teammate Willie Johnson came in second. (Sam Gause / Natchez Democrat)

Natchez High School’s Malik Byrd runs away from the competition in the 300-meter hurdles during the regional track and field meet at Natchez High School. Byrd’s teammate Willie Johnson came in second. (Sam Gause / Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The male members of the Natchez High School track and field team had a chip on their shoulders during the regional meet in Natchez Friday.

One week removed from losing to Brookhaven High School in a district meet, seniors Freddie Singleton, John Ferguson, Daryl Jones and their teammates weren’t settling for second place.

Singleton and Brookhaven’s Randy Wilson were going back and forth on the boys’ long jump competition, and despite being edged by Wilson in the event, Singleton was confident his team would take the day.

“We’re fixing to win this,” said Singleton, immediately following the event. “If we had a couple more jumps, I would have got him. Natchez and Brookhaven have been going at it. We’re giving them that challenge. It’s getting serious today. It’s all about who’s going to win it all.”

Jones had Natchez in the driver’s seat early with first-place finishes in the 3200-meter followed by the 1600-meter run. Brandon Green won the pole vault and Malik Byrd won the 300-meter hurdles to give Natchez a lead heading into the relays. Byrd said the team’s renewed focus allowed them to perform better than a week ago, which saw them lose to Brookhaven by five points.

“We gathered together at practice this week and decided we would push harder,” Byrd said. “Brookhaven, they challenge us, and we just wanted to come out on top.”

Natchez won the 4X100 relay and 4X400 relay en route to a 164-point total, 36 points higher than second place Brookhaven.

And while the boys cruised down the stretch, the girls competed, but ultimately came in second, 12 points behind West Jones.

“It could have been a bigger day,” Natchez track coach Larry Wesley said. “I guess you could call it a little bit of payback for West Jones, taking first from our girls. A lot of those basketball players were going back at it today.”

Career bests were still attained on the day. Zyaire Ewing, for instance, threw the shot put 36 feet, sending her teammates in a frenzy.

“30 what?” said Ernesha Chatman, after Ewing’s distance was announced. “Dang, you don’t have to throw anymore. That’s over.”

Meanwhile, Kenya Davis ran away from her opponents in the 3200 meter run with a 13.46 time, better than her district time one week ago.

“You have to keep beating your personal record to keep getting better,” Davis said. “I’m just trying to make it to state this year since this is my last year.”

Natchez will go to Long Beach to compete in south state Saturday.