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Sanders wins only title for WC, VHS

Chris Withrow, left, a pole vaulter for Vicksburg High, makes a leap on the way to a second-place finish at Saturday’s Class 5A state meet in Jackson. In the next photo, Warren Central’s Chase Grogan runs to a second-place finish in the finals of the 3,200 meters. At top right, Gulfport’s Charles Hall, left, VHS freshman Maurice Taylor, center, and Tupelo’s Jarvis Rose sprint to a photo finish in the 100 meter dash. The three runners finished 3 /100ths of a second apart. Hall won and Taylor finished second, 1/100th of a second behind. At bottom right, VHS’ Katrina Sanders prepares to heave the shot put. Sanders was the only Warren County athlete to win a state title Saturday, beating WC’s JaQuita Benard by over a foot. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[05/14/01] JACKSON A Vicksburg High freshman won a state title at Saturday’s Class 5A meet, but it wasn’t the one most people expected.

VHS freshman shot putter Katrina Sanders threw a personal-best 36 feet, 7 1/2 inches to win the girls Class 5A title, beating Warren Central’s JaQuita Benard by more than a foot.

Afterward, Benard hugged and congratulated Sanders. “I’m very happy. I told her before we even threw that we needed to come in first and second,” said Benard, who had a throw of 35-6.

Sanders’ previous best was a little over 35 feet. She had qualified at last week’s North State meet with a throw of 34-5.

“It’s amazing,” VHS girls coach Eric Solis said. “Coach (Vernita) Bennett kept telling her she had a chance to win it, but I don’t think she believed it.”

Sanders disagreed. “I planned on throwing 37,” she said.

Sanders was the only athlete male or female to win a state title for VHS or WC. Her win helped the Missy Gators finish 12th in the girls’ team standings with 15 points, even though VHS had only Sanders and a 4×400 relay team competing in the meet. WC’s girls finished sixth, with 28 points. Natchez edged Murrah for the girls 5A title, 86-83.

The Vicksburg boys finished fourth in the team standings, with 48 points. WC’s boys were 11th, with 28 points. Brandon won the boys’ title with 110 points.

“We ran excellent times, it’s just that the competition is so much better today,” WC boys coach Morris Johnson said.

VHS freshman sprinter Maurice Taylor suffered his first loss in the 100 meters, finishing 1/100th of a second behind defending state champion Charles Hall of Gulfport.

“I pretty much had him. He started tripping and knocked me off my stride,” said Taylor, who came across in 10.79 seconds and later finished second in the 200.

Taylor had a slow start and was about five meters behind at the halfway point. But he found another gear and quickly made up the ground, coming across with Hall and Tupelo’s Jarvis Rose in a photo finish.

It took meet officials several minutes of reviewing video tape to sort out the winner. Hall, Taylor and Rose were separated by just 3/100ths of a second.

“Fifteen years old and running the state track meet and finishing second in 5A? He’s going to be the person to beat for the next three years in that event,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said of Taylor.

The Gators managed to medal in several other events, but couldn’t break through with a win.

Senior Pole vaulter Chris Withrow tied for second place with a vault of 12-6, tying him with Madison Central’s Chris Smith. Brandon’s John Yarbrough won with a jump of 14 feet.

“I’m never happy with second,” Withrow said. “I wasn’t keeping my feet up long enough … Instead of letting the pole vault me up, I was see-sawing in the air.”

Another VHS senior, Terry Cooper, finished third in the high jump and second in the 110 meter high hurdles with a time of 14.67 seconds, .17 seconds behind winner Jarious Norwood of Brandon.

The results were almost as frustrating for Warren Central’s boys. WC’s Chase Grogan led most of the way in the 3,200 meters, but lost to Natchez’s Clint Johnson in the last 200 meters. Grogan later led the 1,600 meters for the first two laps, but finished third.

“I hate it,” Grogan said of his day. “Today’s not my day, I guess.”

The Lady Vikes were hurt by a last-minute time change that forced them to scramble to some of the early events. The start of the meet was changed from 10 a.m. to 9 a.m., moving up the start of 10 field events. Many teams didn’t get the message, and some athletes either had little time to stretch and prepare for their events, started them late, or missed them altogether.

WC high jumper Wanda Calvin arrived late for her event, as did VHS triple jumper Willie Powers. Powers was still able to finish third, but Calvin finished fourth.

“We had the fiasco with the time change, which hurt two of our girls,” WC girls coach Andrea Fairchild said. “But they were able to start from where they were and they didn’t complain.”