Undefeated Missy Gators take aim at rival Natchez|[4/14/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

Today, the undefeated Vicksburg Missy Gators track and field team will get to see long-time nemesis Natchez High for the first time this season.

Natchez has won the Girls Class 5A title the last two years, but last May, the Missy Gators came within five points of dethroning the Lady Bulldogs. The march to the rematch in Pearl begins today when Vicksburg hosts the four-team, Division 6-5A meet at Memorial Stadium. Field events will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the track finals will begin at about 5 p.m.

Vicksburg, Natchez, Warren Central and Forest Hill all will compete, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to next week’s regional meet, also at Memorial Stadium.

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“We’ll get to see Natchez for the first time and we’ll be ready,” VHS girls coach Deborah L. Brown said. “From what I’ve seen of the entries from Natchez, I think my girls will be the stronger team this year.”

The Missy Gators have rolled to six straight meet titles, including last Saturday’s BancorpSouth Invitational. In that meet, VHS totaled 159 points to crush a five-team field that included 5A foes Hattiesburg, Greenville and Warren Central.

Vicksburg is led by field standout Rachel Jenkins, who swept the triple jump, long jump and high jump on Saturday.

Stephanie Wright won both the 100 and 300 hurdles and sprinter Courtney Prentiss doubled in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. VHS also won all three relay events.

“I’m confident, but I’m trying not to be overconfident,” Brown said. “Saturday was a little test with Hattiesburg and Greenville. I say a test, because we were pushed and had better times in the relays and individual events.”

The boys meet figures to be close. Vicksburg upended Warren Central (119-109) at the BancorpSouth meet. Distance runner James Wood was the MVP, winning the 3,200 (10:57.83) and the 1,600 meter run (5:01.13).

Warren Central, which beat Vicksburg in the Coca-Cola Relays at Viking Stadium two weeks ago, can rely on the speed of standout Fred Payne.

Payne won the 100-meter dash Saturday in a season best time of 10.87. He also gained a win in the triple jump (43-feet, 3 inches). Larry Warner is a threat in the long jump while Marquel Sims is a contender in the 200 meters and a key cog with Payne in the sprint relays.

While the sprints have been the Vikings’ strength, they have also picked up valuable points in the distance events. Devin Case, Paul Hancock, Casey Brown and Calvin Reed have all helped WC to several strong finishes this season.

“A pleasant surprise is we’re scoring points in the distance races,” WC coach Larry Tyrone said. “The last couple of years we haven’t scored any points there.”