Sprinting from the competition|[4/7/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

The Vicksburg Missy Gators have sprinted and jumped past their competition all season long, and on Saturday, they will bring an undefeated track team to Memorial Stadium for the BancorpSouth Relays.

“We have a balanced team and they’ve shown that they can all work together,” Brown said. “We feel like we have four or five girls who can produce from 20 to 30 points in a meet for us.”

Last Saturday at the Coca Cola Relays at Warren Central, VHS piled up 218 points, besting a six-team field. Cleveland East Side was second in the meet, but finished 81 points behind the Missy Gators. Warren Central was third with 112.

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“We started our season, winning a nine-team meet at St. Andrew’s,” said Brown, whose team finished second to Natchez in the Class 5A state meet last season. “Then we won the spring medley meet again at St. Andrew’s. Then we won a field event meet at Pearl and then again at Warren Central last Saturday.”

Rachel Jenkins, one of the Missy Gators’ top performers in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, said the team has grown over the past year.

“Each year we’ve been able to add to our team,” Jenkins said. “We’ve done pretty good so far. We’ve done a real good job both on the track and in the field.

“Everything is strong right now and it’s hard to say where our best events are,” added Jenkins. who finished fifth last year at the state meet in the triple jump.

This season, Jenkins has been dominant in the triple and long jumps. She won the triple jump by more than three feet last week at WC with a leap of 35 feet, 5 inches. She also won the long jump by nearly a foot at 17 feet, 4 inches.

Jenkins has added the high jump to her list this season. She cleared 5-foot-3 to beat St. Aloysius’ Sara Burrell by five inches.

“The high jump is new to me, but I like it,” Jenkins said.

“Rachel is capable of giving us 30 points in every meet because she’s good in the high, triple and long jump. She just keeps getting stronger each week,” Brown said.

A rule change regarding the number of total events a participant can enter could also benefit the deeper Missy Gators once the postseason meets start.

“The old rule, which I think helped teams like Natchez, was that an individual could enter three events and then participate in all three relays,” Brown said. “The new rule is that you can still enter an individual in three events, but then they can only run one relay.”

That will hurt a team like Natchez, which was led by Junior Olympic track star Janice Davis. Davis. She swept the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes in the 2003 state meet and anchored three relays, and is now in her sophomore season at Stanford.

The Missy Gators are not a one-girl show.

“We’ve got Patrice Johnson in both the discus and the shot. We’ve got Stephanie Wright in the 100 and 300 hurdles and we’ve got two good sprinters in Courtney Prentiss and Kendra Sims,” Brown said.

Johnson has earned double wins in her two events and is threat to win the state discus event after recording a career best heave of 102-feet, 10 inches.

Prentiss has run a sub-12 second time in the 100 meter dash and won the event at WC with a time of 12.41. Sims is right behind, having clocked a 12-flat time this season.

Wright won both hurdle events at WC but was pushed hard by teammate Erica Woodson. Wright has a season-best 45.13 in the 300 while Woodson is right behind at 45.24.

Saturday’s meet at VHS will feature six teams. The host Missy Gators will be joined by Warren Central, St. Aloysius, Greenville-Weston, Hattiesburg and Yazoo City.

“Greenville-Weston normally has a good boys and girls track team and Hattiesburg is normally strong, but we’ve already beaten them once at St. Andrew’s,” Brown said.