DeMichael Harris continues to set new records

Published 12:37 am Sunday, May 8, 2016

FLOWOOD — DeMichael Harris wasn’t really running against other competitors on Saturday. The St. Aloysius senior was chasing history.

He caught it.

Harris won the MAIS Class AAA championship in the 100, 200 and 400 meters with record times in each event during a dominant day at the state meet at Jackson Prep.

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Harris clocked a time of 20.8 seconds in the 200 meters to become first high school athlete — either in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools or the Mississippi High School Activities Association — to break the 21-second barrier at a state meet.

The previous record for either association was Vicksburg’s Terrell Smith, who had a time of 21.03 seconds at the 2014 MHSAA Class 5A meet.

“I came in 21.00 at Wilkinson County, and 21.1 at Pearl. So I knew something had to crack eventually. I just came out and gave it everything I had. When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t slow down at all. I wanted to run to the gate, and thank God I got it,” Harris said. “I knew I was going to be close to it. I didn’t know if I was going to be a little bit under or a little bit over it. It feels great.

Harris ran the 100 meters in 10.55 seconds, and the 400 in 47.96 seconds. Both marks were a few tenths of a second off his personal beat, yet obliterated the overall MAIS records.

The previous best in the 100 was 10.77 seconds, by Pillow Academy’s Elliott Thornburg in 2008.

In the 400, the old mark was 49.34 seconds by Mark Noland of Lee Academy, set in 2006. The 200-meter record was 21.86 seconds, set by Sylva-Bay’s Cody Prewitt in 2010.

Now all of them belong to Harris, who also hold the MHSAA Class 1A records in the 100 and the 400 that he set at last year’s state meet before St. Al moved to the MAIS.

Harris had consistently been better than all of those marks throughout the season, and had no trouble beating them as easily as he did the competition at the state meet.

Harris won the 400 meters on Saturday by more than three seconds — about 30 yards on the track — over Caleb McNeil of Hartfield Academy. He was two seconds better than Greenville-St. Joseph’s Brice Johnson in the 200.

“I just set a little guideline, set some standards for myself. I just try to shoot for those and don’t really worry what the people beside me are doing. I’m just shooting for that goal. That’s what my drive is,” Harris said.

Harris added a pair of silver medals to his three gold ones by helping St. Al finish second in both the 4×200 and 4×400 meter relays. Connor Bottin, Donald Woods and Deontae Carson were on the 4×200 team. Bottin, Woodson, Harris and Chandler Roesch comprised the 4×400 relay.

Bottin also had a big day for the Flashes. In addition to his two silver relay medals, he won the Class AAA championship in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles with times of 15.58 and 40.81 seconds, respectively.

“It feels pretty good. At the beginning of the year, I did not think I was going to be a state champion. I thought I was going to be one of the mediocre people,” Bottin said.

Centerville Academy’s Britt Netterville was the runner-up to Bottin in both hurdles events, by .16 seconds in the 110 hurdles and .74 seconds in the 300. Bottin had a comfortable winning margin in the 300 despite clipping his final hurdle.

“I cut my knee in every race on the hurdles. At the end of the 300, they said I kicked a hurdle and I don’t even feel it,” Bottin said.

St. Al finished third in the team standings in the boys’ meet, with 101 total points. Centerville won, with 133 points, and Silliman was second with 126.

In the girls’ meet, St. Al finished seventh in the team standings with 38 points. Silliman won, with 109.

St. Al’s Dede Apenyo finished second in the girls’ 200-meter dash, with a time of 26.84 seconds, and Madelyn Polk also won a silver medal in the 3,200 meters with a time of 12 minutes, 30.21 seconds.

In the Class AA boys’ meet, Tallulah Academy won state championships in the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays and finished second in the team standings with 77 points.

Columbus Christian won the team title with 86 points.

In the Class AA girls’ meet, Tallulah’s Anna Florice won the state championship in the high jump as the Lady Trojans finished sixth in the team standings.

Canton Academy totaled 165 points to more than double runner-up Central Holmes’ 81 points and win the team title.

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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