• 36°

County tracksters have eyes on state

[4/30/04]The Warren Central, Vicksburg High and St. Aloysius track teams will all pack up a bus and head to Gulfport today with a full complement of athletes.

For some, it could be the last bus ride of the season. For others, it’s the last step on the long road to the state meet.

The three Warren County teams will participate in the South State meet at Gulfport High. All three teams have a nearly-full roster for the meet, and are hoping to come away with the lineup intact. Only the top four advance to next week’s state meet, making Saturday’s competition the final test to separate the average from the elite.

“You do have that big a split between regional and South State,” WC girls coach Andrea Fairchild said. “Their whole mood changes after regionals, and it is a whole new level.”

The Lady Vikes advanced to South State in 10 of the 12 events they were entered in at last week’s regional, but Fairchild said the number was a little deceiving. Several WC athletes finished fourth, just making the cut for this week’s meet. A stronger effort will be needed to move on this week, she said.

“We had a lot of fourth places, and we’re going to have to step up if we expect to make it to state,” she said.

Vicksburg’s girls haven’t been close to many people this spring. The Missy Gators have won four meets already, including the Division 6-5A meet two weeks ago, and are eyeing a fifth.

With several strong relays the 4×200 meter and 4×400 meter teams both won at the regional meet and a solid group of sprinters, VHS is a dangerous team heading into South State.

Courtney Prentiss finished second in the 100- and 200-meter dashes last week, while Tiffany Hubbard and Rachel Jenkins have swept the 400 several times this season.

“The only thing that’s standing in our way of getting a fifth trophy this season is the Missy Gators,” VHS coach Deborah Brown said. “We’re our only obstacle right now.”

On the boys’ side, Vicksburg is coming off a first-place finish at the regional meet. The Gators have a strong, balanced team that should fare well in a number of events and push most of the team through to the state meet.

Sprinter Maurice Taylor and distance runner James Wood have been the most consistent athletes for VHS this spring, but shot putters Casey Younger and Detrick Johnson will be key, VHS coach Bobby Huell said.

Warren Central coach Larry Tyrone wasn’t too concerned about most of his athletes moving on.

The Vikings were first or second in six events at the regional meet, and had strong showings in several others.

Another solid effort this week will keep WC cruising on the road to Pearl, Tyrone said.

“I think most of them will advance on. I’d be surprised if they didn’t,” Tyrone said. “If they do like they’re capable of doing … the should get in, if we don’t drop a baton or something.

“When you finish in the top two in any race, you have a good chance of finishing in the top four (at South State), I would think.”

St. Al is also taking a large contingent to Gulfport for the Class 1A South State meet. Seventeen athletes advanced from last week’s regionals, one of the largest groups from St. Al in recent memory.

“We accomplished just what we wanted to,” Jones said.