Three from county take home gold

Published 12:07 am Sunday, May 15, 2011

PEARL — While his competition took turns vaulting higher and higher into the air, Matt Waddle waited patiently with family and friends.

Off to the side, out of sight, he went over his approach in his head. By the time he finally got involved in the boys’ pole vault at the Class 6A state meet Saturday, there was no one left to challenge him.

Waddle, a senior at Warren Central, cleared 13 feet, 6 inches on his first attempt to win the state championship after the other seven vaulters failed on lower heights.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“It’s good. I’m glad it was this year and not last year, because I had a lot harder competition last year. It’s definitely something I’m going to remember and be able to tell my kids, that I was a state champion,” Waddle said.

Waddle wasn’t the only state champion crowned from the Vicksburg area on Saturday.

Vicksburg High freshman Terrell Smith won the 200 meter dash in 22.22 seconds. That was more than two-tenths of a second faster than Natchez’s Jeremy Davis and Meridian’s Andrew Brewster, who finished tied in a dead heat for second place at 22.45 seconds.

On the girls’ side, Vicksburg’s Chantilly Hall blew away the field in the 400 meters to take home the gold medal. She crossed the finish line in 59.44 seconds, nearly a full second better than runner-up Ashley Henderson of Hattesburg.

In the Class 2A boys meet, Justin Davis won the 3,200 meters and Ledarion Robinson the shot put to help Hinds AHS finish second in the team standings. Hinds totaled 95 points to finish just behind J.Z. George, which had 97.

In Class 4A boys, Port Gibson sophomore Tommy McCalphin won the 400 and 200 meters, while Adarius Barnes finished first in the triple jump and second in the long jump. Port Gibson also won the team title, beating Poplarville 74-59. Noxubee County was third with 58 points.

Back in the pole vault, Waddle’s strategy to sit tight was born of a sore quad muscle and the confidence he could beat most of the other vaulters late in the event. His seed height of 14 feet was 6 inches higher than the next best competitor, and he’s consistently approached the 15-foot mark in practice.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some pressure, though.

Starting at such a large height meant that if he didn’t clear the bar on one of his first three attempts, Waddle would finish dead last. He also had to stay loose for nearly an hour while the other vaulters made their attempts.

“That’s the worst thing you can do is come in at too high of a height and not clear it. Then you don’t qualify for anything, when I know I can get in the top three. Once they started scratching out, I was getting kind of nervous,” Waddle said.

It turned out there was nothing to worry about. DeSoto Central’s John Melendrez, and the Madison Central duo of Adam Buckley and Barclay Angle, all missed on their three attempts at 13 feet.

Waddle then strolled onto the runway for the first time and, without a warm-up attempt, went over the bar at 13-6 for the state championship. He made three attempts at 14 feet but failed, giving him the gold medal but not the school record he also sought.

“Once I cleared it, all the pressure was off. But that’s not a good thing because me trying to get 14-6 as a school record, there’s nobody there pushing me. Only thing there is the school record. It’s been there for 20 years and that should be enough to get me over,” Waddle said.