Lady Vikes, Gators looking to win numbers game at regional meet

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2001

[04/27/01] As the high school track season hits the homestretch beginning with Saturday’s regional meets, it becomes a game of numbers for coaches and athletes.

Not so much the ones dealing with time and distance, but rather the number of qualifiers each team gets for the North and South State meets, and then the state meet. The more athletes a team can qualify, the better its chances of moving up in the team standings.

The Region 3-5A meet will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. at Madison Central. The top four finishers in each event qualify for the North State meet next weekend at Tupelo. Region 3-5A includes Warren Central, Vicksburg, Greenville, Gentry, Madison Central, Callaway, Murrah and Clinton.

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“The emphasis is on qualifying, of course, but we want them to run good times too,” VHS girls coach Eric Solis said. “We want to do both. We want them to get the feel of running and racing fast so that when they get to the state meet they’re not surprised at their times.”

Solis’ squad and Warren Central’s boys should turn in solid performances, but both will be hampered by a lack of numbers. VHS’ girls relay teams are strong, but the Missy Gators have little depth in the individual events. Still, Solis expected all of his athletes to qualify for North State.

“It’s pretty much going to be everybody, because everybody is in events and relays that they’re good in,” Solis said.

The Vikings are also low in numbers, but coach Morris Johnson said he expected to qualify athletes for North State in about 10 events. Chase Grogan (3,200 meters, 1,600 meters and 800 meters), Roosevelt Truitt (long jump, triple jump and 200 meters) and Deonta Selvy (shot put) should compete for titles in individual events.

While the Vikings and Missy Gators are having down years, the Gators and Lady Vikes are surging.

The WC girls, led by Wanda Calvin (high jump, 100 meter hurdles and 300 meter hurdles), Wendy Thomas (long jump, 200 meters) and JaQuita Benard (shot put, discus), as well as strong relay teams, have won four meets this season and should contend for the regional team title.

“We’re a little slim in a couple of events. We don’t have any entries in the 400 or 800, and that’s going to hurt us, but we do have a shot,” Lady Vikes coach Andrea Fairchild said.

The VHS boys, meanwhile, are strong and deep across the board. VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said he expects every one of his athletes to qualify for North State, and many of them to go on to state. That should give the Gators a shot at a state team title.

“Right now we feel we can do real well. We’ve got 19 participating and we’re participating in everything on the track except the shot put,” Stevens said. “That’s what you’ve got to have to get out of regionals, is the numbers.”

And numbers are one thing St. Aloysius doesn’t have.

The Flashes and Lady Flashes competed in their regional meet last week and will take this weekend off before heading to Gulfport for the Class 1A South State meet May 5 at 11 a.m.

St. Al has only four girls on the team, but three of them have qualified. Six boys have qualified in eight events, including two Austin Golding and Kelly Sadler in the pole vault. Only two competed in the 1A state event last year.

“I think we’re going to do well in everything,” St. Al coach Jimmy Salmon said.