VHS freshman tearing up track

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2004

Vicksburgh High freshman Courtney Prentiss is aiming for state championships in the 100- and 200-meter dashes on Saturday at the state track meet at Pearl High.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[5/7/04]Courtney Prentiss is looking for some competition.

A freshman at Vicksburg High, Prentiss is hoping to bring home a pair of titles from the Class 5A state track meet on today. She’s the state’s top qualifier in the 200-meter dash, and she’s a close fifth in the 100-meter.

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And when the heat is on, Prentiss is at her best. She’s one of those rare athletes that performs better under pressure.

At the regional meet on April 24, she ran 25.9 seconds in the 200. When things got tougher at South State on Saturday, she turned it up a notch for a 24.8.

Her next goal is to drop below 24 seconds today.

“Courtney likes to work against a challenge,” VHS girls track coach Deborah Brown said. “When she’s in the heat of the group, you can see her reaching down, pulling the best out.”

And her focus is dead-set on victory.

“I’m really pushing myself in practice to win state, because I really want to win as a freshman,” Prentiss said.

What’s even more impressive is that Prentiss has become the team’s leader, despite her young age and inexperience.

“When the other girls on the team see what Courtney has done, it’s going to push them and motivate them to reach down and give their concerted effort as well,” Brown said.

Prentiss is not the only Missy Gator with a shot at winning, either.

Vicksburg is sending eight athletes to compete in 12 events and sits with Natchez, Brandon and Columbus as the favorites.

“If we go focused with a lot of hustle and determination, we can win state,” Brown said, adding that the team has done very well in recent weeks. “Right now, it’s just a matter of us going and having the other teams that we have not run against split points.”

Prentiss will join Erica Woodson, Tiffany Hubbard and Rachel Jenkins on the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relay teams. The latter three will team up with Stephanie Wright for the 4-by-400. All three teams have a shot at medaling.

Katrina Sanders is hoping to set another record in the shot put. She established the state record as a freshman.

Now in her senior year, Sanders is aiming for the overall record of 45-feet, 3-inches

Tiffany Williams forced Picayune’s Ronna Sandoval to quit at South State, now she wants to do the same to a pair of Tupelo distance runners that finished just ahead of her in qualifying.

Vicksburg’s boys have a more challenging path ahead of them. The Gators will be competing in nine events today, but Brandon has cornered the market with talent across the board.

“Right now we’re looking pretty good, but I look at the papers and I see Brandon pretty well stacked,” VHS coach Bobby Huell said. “It appears that they’re going to be the team that we’ll have to try to beat.”

Defending champ Maurice Taylor enters as the favorite in both the 100 and 200, but he’ll be challenged in the 100 by Grenada’s Glenn Tillman and Brandon’s Ken Love.

James Woods also has a chance at gold in the 800 and 1,600.

“He should have a pretty good shot if he performs well,” Huell said of Woods. “I think he can handle both of those events.”