Natchez High duo claim boys, girls long jump state titles

Published 12:40 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

NATCHEZ — Ernesha Chatman said what she most vividly recalls last week at the track and field state championships was the other girls asking her when she was going to graduate so they could stand a fighting chance.

Better luck next year, girls.

Alongside Freddie Singleton, the Natchez High School duo managed to sweep the MHSAA Class 5A long jump titles.

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The win for Chatman, a Hinds Community College basketball signee, gave the dual-sport star back-to-back titles in the event, an achievement she was eyeing.

“I had to defend my title,” said Chatman, who leapt 18-00.25. “I couldn’t win it one year and then the next year not win it. It felt good. It made me feel like that was what I was supposed to do.

“I felt as the year progressed, I got better and better, and I just felt unstoppable.”

Singleton, who leapt 22-7.50, said his championship was a long time coming as he had made it to state in each of the previous three seasons, but failed to bring home the gold medal. The Bulldog senior leapt 22-07.50 to secure his elusive championship.

“I felt deep inside of me that I could beat the competition,” Singleton said. “For me to take (the championship) home is absolutely amazing.”

The state titles capped off a banner year for both athletes as they each helped their respective boys and girls squad win South State titles for the third-consecutive year.

“We built a real brotherhood,” Singleton said of the boys team. “We kept pushing each other. The farther we went, the more we pushed each other. I’m going to truly miss the boys team, and I know they are going to miss me as well.”

Due to their strong efforts at the state meet, Singleton helped the Natchez boys finish fourth overall, while the Lady Bulldogs claimed a second-place finish in state.

“They will both truly be missed,” Natchez track coach Larry Wesley said. “Both of them are state champs in the long jump, so that goes to tell you that they do listen to what I have to say sometimes.”

Singleton and Chapman said they will both most miss the camaraderie among teammates and fun days on the track spent with their coach.

“Coach Wesley was a nice coach,” Singleton said. “He is one of the best coaches. I’ll never have another Coach Wesley.”

Added Chatman, “I’m going to remember crazy times with Coach Wesley and him hollering at us. I’m going to remember my teammates, and I’m going to miss them.”