Natchez High School track eyes LSU Indoor Invitational
Published 12:01 am Friday, January 8, 2016
NATCHEZ — Larry Wesley stood on the track at Natchez High School Thursday with his whistle in hand and barking out instructions, signifying the start of a new campaign.
The veteran coach and the rest of the Bulldogs track team will make their annual trip to Baton Rouge Saturday to partake in the LSU Indoor Invitational.
While the Bulldogs have yet to notch a team title at the meet, Natchez has secured plenty of individual achievements at the high-anticipated event.
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“We’ve been going to this meet for 18 years. Ever since I’ve been here,” Wesley said. “This meet really highlights the program. How we go (success wise) is how we’ll go (during the season).”
In the hopes of building on and sustaining that success, Natchez will lean on a bevy of talented runners, headlined by junior boys standout Chris Crockett, as well as senior Shaylin Williams on the girls side, in addition to eighth-grader Taliyah Harding.
“I like going to LSU,” Crockett said. “We want to go down there and win it this time. We have a few seniors, and we want to help them out. It just comes down to everybody working hard and not giving up.”
Wesley said each of the trio of runners brings a unique attribute to the table, including a strong work ethic to go along with immense talent.
“All three of those made state last year,” Wesley said. “They pretty much are going to carry the team from here on in. I have others, but those three have put the most work in so far.”
The trio, along with the rest of the Bulldogs, will compete against some of the best athletes from across the region, as far reaching as Tennessee and Oklahoma.
“The LSU track meet is the most competitive indoor track meet,” said Williams, who competed in the 300 hurdles at the state meet last year. “My teammates and I try to run our best to be one of the best teams there.”
Meanwhile, Harding has finished fourth in the 800 meter in each of the past two seasons.
“I’m excited to go (to LSU) and run and compete against other runners,” Harding said. “When we go to LSU, we just try to run our best and do well, and win.”
Williams said the competition level at LSU instills a certain level of confidence that helps prepare Natchez for upcoming events.
“We want to do our best and get the best place possible,” she said.
However, Wesley was quick to note the Bulldogs have a tendency of getting too overconfident, requiring the coach to remind the squad that hard is still to be done.
“We’ll have a chest poked out so big, sometimes we have to knock it in a little bit,” Wesley said. “But just going to this meet is a big thrill.”
Yet with five state titles under his belt, Wesley remains hopeful Saturday’s event will kick start another banner run at Natchez High.
“You get a chance to look at your individual talent,” Wesley said about the event. “In a meet like this, where you have 50 teams, if my kids can finish in the top 10, we had done very well.”