Leon Miles leads Vicksburg to strong day at Class 5A track meet

Published 12:35 am Sunday, May 8, 2016

PEARL — Leon Miles had a mission heading into his final state track meet.

“My name will be remembered,” he said.

Wearing a neon green headband and sunglasses as he blasted down the straightaway in the final event of the day, the 4×400 meter relay, he certainly made an impression. The three gold medals he took home all but guaranteed he’ll be talked about for years to come, too.

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

Miles, Vicksburg High’s hurdler supreme, successfully defended his Class 5A championships in the 110 and 300 meter hurdles at Saturday’s state meet and also ran the anchor leg for the winning 4×400 relay. The senior finished his high school career with three consecutive state titles in the 300 hurdles and back-to-back crowns in the 110.

Miles ran the 110-meter hurdles in 14.62 seconds, and the 300 in 38.17 seconds.

“It’s excellent. I almost cried. It’s very emotional to come back and defend our title from last year. So I’m proud of our team,” Miles said after the 4×400. “We did good, so I’m proud of my team. We have a big graduating senior class. A lot of us are going to college to run track. So I’m proud of everybody.”

Miles wasn’t the only Vicksburg High athlete to reach the podium. The Gators and Missy Gators won a combined 11 medals and eight individual state championships. Both the boys and girls teams finished third in the team standings. Oxford won the boys and girls team championships.

Keymontez White, Jay Stirgus and Darius Tucker joined Miles on the winning 4×400 relay. Tyler McDowell won the state title in the boys’ triple jump with a leap of 47 feet, 1 inch, and was third in the long jump.

“It feels wonderful. It’s like the best experience in the world. I just want to thank God, and I did it for my grandfather,” McDowell said.

McDowell’s winning triple jump distance was far and away his best of his six attempts. Most were in the 44- to 46-foot range. The 47-foot leap on his third attempt was a personal best and 6 inches better than runner-up D.K. Metcalf of Oxford.

“D.K. gave me a good run, but I wanted to beat him. Last week I lost and I had a little temper tantrum. This week, I came with the mindset to beat him no matter what,” McDowell said. “I just dug deep. I had to go get it.”

For Vicksburg’s girls’ team, Keiyana Gaskin successfully defended her Class 5A championships in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes, and added a third gold medal in the 4×100 meter relay.

Jakayla Grace, Kiona Patton and Taylor Gray were also on the 4×100 relay.

Gaskin battled a nagging hamstring injury all season and didn’t run in competition until the Division 4-5A meet three weeks ago. She did just well enough to advance through the regional and North State rounds, and then managed to win Saturday despite posting a time that was so-so by her standards.

Gaskin won the 100 with a time of 12.63 seconds, and the 200 in 25.02 seconds. Both times were slower than the ones she won with in 2014.

“I put all my trust in God. That’s the only person that brought me through this, and the only person that could have brought me through this,” said Gaskin, who has signed to run track at Southern Miss. “I was out for a month, and then I had basketball season that held me back in my training. I know everyone else was training hard and getting better every day, and I was falling back. I knew every day I went to practice I had to work hard, because I had a goal to accomplish.”

Tymesha Nabors added to her gold medal collection as well.

The senior won her third consecutive state championship in the 300-meter hurdles and anchored the winning 4×400 meter relay.

Chadia Cain, Char’Davia Anderson and JaMiracle Williams joined Nabors on the 4×400 team.

Nabors also finished a disappointing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, but didn’t seem to mind.

The 300 is her better event, and she clocked a time of 45.40 seconds to beat Natchez’s Shamarra Graver by more than half a second.

“It feels great. This is my third state title in the 300. I feel like I accomplished something,” said Nabors, who has signed to run track next season at Hinds Community College. “If I wouldn’t have tripped over the last hurdle in the 300 I think my time would have been better.”

Vicksburg also picked up a pair of medals in the 800-meter run. Jade Douglas finished second in the girls’ version, and Otis Johnson was third in the boys’.

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.

email author More by Ernest