Bulldogs start season on strong foot, under a new coach

Published 7:13 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022

NATCHEZ — Bulldog sophomore Racheal Wesley finished first in the mile and two-mile races at the Vicksburg meet last Friday. She completed the mile in 7:13.82 and the two-mile in 16:52.57. 

Wesley took a break from running track last season but returned this year. She said she built her stamina and improved her breathing by running cross country. It has helped her have a good start to the season.

“It was the start I wanted. I want to improve my times, but it is a good point to start,” Wesley said. “I used to run my two miles in 14 minutes or less, so I want to get there again. I used to run the one mile in six minutes or less, so I would like to get faster in the mile too. I will need to run harder at practices and meets to reach my goals.”

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She said one area that needs improvement is her final kick at the end of a race. She will be working on her sprints to finish races before Natchez goes to the Wordy Hicks relays in Woodville. 

Her excitement for the season comes from watching her times progress. Since previous seasons, she feels she has improved a lot. 

During the race in Vicksburg, she said she lost count of which lap she was on so she wasn’t able to do her final sprint. In her next meet, she plans to keep count of each lap, pick up her pace and use her strategy to run. 

“It’s like starting over again. It is good to return to track. The thrill and the running are different,” Wesley said. “Cross country is jogging and keeping pace. Track is more of a mixture. You run harder in track than you do in cross country.”

Bulldog jumpers had a good meet at Vicksburg. Carmen Butler placed third in the boys’ 300-meter hurdles in Vicksburg with a time of 43.93, and Ethan Williams cleared five-foot eight-inches in the high jump to place third last Friday. They continued their success in Tylertown. 

Mercedes Sewell cleared four feet four inches in the girls’ high jump to take third place. Ariel Anderson lept 16-feet and two inches in the girls’ long jump to take second place.

Under new leadership

Longtime coach Lary Wesley resigned at the end of February before track season began. The Bulldogs tapped on the shoulder of Alicia Wimley to take over the reins. She is a former Bulldog and ran track for Natchez from 2005 to 2010. 

Wimley is an Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy and serves as a school resource officer at the school. In track, she ran in all of the short-distance races. Anything 400 meters and under she ran, she said. 

“I had brothers, and I would race them. I grew up with a lot of brothers so I tried every sport. Track was my best,” Wimley said. “I used to like catching people. I would run the 400 slowly until the last 100. Then I would pass everyone. I would play like I was hurt, and then when it was time to run, I turned it on.” 

Lary was her coach, and now she gets to take his spot. It has been a lot to take in during the transition. She had to learn the school and the duties of being a head coach. For example, she has built a roster and scheduled buses for meets. She said it has been a good start, and she has some goals for the program. 

“It feels like I’m giving back,” Wimley said. “I want to take this team to state. This year, I started in the middle of the season, so I hope I can get them to PR. I want to carry it on for next year.”