WC quartet prepared for state meet

Published 11:30 am Friday, May 9, 2014

In the past few years, Cretesha Kelly and Khadijah Qualls have collected quite a few medals from the state track meet.

Between them, the Warren Central duo has four to their credit — two each — but none of them are gold.

They have one more chance.

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Both seniors will once again compete in the Class 6A state meet Saturday at Pearl High School. Qualls has qualified for the 100 meter hurdles and the long jump, while Kelly is in the triple jump.

“I’ve been working hard to try and get first this year,” Kelly said. “I did more drills, a little different stuff, to try and stretch out my legs and get further.”

Qualls will be running the hurdles for the fourth consecutive year, but of the two it’s been Kelly that’s had the more frustrating time at the state meet.

Kelly finished second in the triple jump as both a sophomore and a junior. She was 4 1/2 inches short of beating Murrah’s Sierra Shelby last year.

This time around, Kelly might once again be chasing a superior jumper and hoping her best is enough to win.

She crushed the field at the North State meet last weekend with a personal-best mark of 36 feet, 10 1/2 inches — more than a foot better than runner-up Daneva Arana of Clinton — but is seeded second at the state meet. Zaria Tillman of Hattiesburg has jumped 37 feet, 2 inches.

Kelly and Tillman are the only jumpers in the state meet field to have gone farther than 36 feet. Kelly said she’s looking forward to finally getting a gold medal to go along with her two silvers.

“I’ll be so excited and so relieved, and so happy, because the hard work will finally pay off,” Kelly said. “I put pressure on myself, but I really want to get first place.”

Qualls, meanwhile, earned bronze medals as a sophomore and junior and was fourth in the 100 meter hurdles as a freshman. This is her first time competing in the long jump.

She’s seeded third in the hurdles this time around, and is one of only three people in the eight-person state final field to have run under 15 seconds.

Qualls’ seed time of 14.99 seconds is about a half-second behind Harper Newell of Clinton. It’s close enough, though, that Qualls isn’t dismissing her chances to win.

“I’ve been PRing, like, every meet since district, so I think I’m going to do good,” she said. “All of our times are really close, so it’s hard to tell who will come in first. I’ve just got to go out there and give it my all, and don’t hold back.”

Kelly and Qualls will be the headliners of a small Warren Central contingent at the state meet.

Deja Ivory is seeded fifth in the girls shot put, while Jacorey Turner will compete in the boys triple jump and high jump. WC had a half-dozen athletes and two relay teams reach last week’s North State meet, but Kelly, Qualls, Ivory and Turner were the only ones to move on to state.

Turner is seeded seventh in the triple jump and eighth in the high jump based on qualifying marks from North and South State. He chalked that up to a dismal performance last week, however, and wasn’t discouraged.

“I’m really feeling triple jump. That’s my best event. High jump, I can at least compete in that,” he said. “I’m going to try not to let all that get to me. I’m just going to go out there and compete, and do what I do best.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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