St. Al’s Woodson trying for six gold medals at state meet

Published 9:48 am Friday, May 5, 2017

In the comic books, the Flash is a superhero who can run fast enough to bend time.

In the real world, the Flash known as Donald Woodson isn’t quite that fast but could certainly find that super power handy this weekend.

Woodson, a senior sprinter for St. Aloysius, will compete in six events Saturday at the MAIS Class AAA state track meet in Jackson. He’s the top seed for the 100 and 200 meter dashes, as well as the 300 meter hurdles, and will also be on the Flashes’ 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 meter relay teams.

It’s a busy schedule, but one Woodson said he’s more than ready to take on — and conquer.

“I think about it, but during a race I don’t. I’ve been practicing way too long and way too hard for it to get to me,” Woodson said of the fatigue from his full day. “I feel like I’ve got a good chance in all six, honestly. I don’t think anybody in Mississippi works as hard as we do.”

The MAIS state track meet got under way Friday morning with the field events contested at Jackson Academy. Running events begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at Jackson Prep.

St. Al’s boys team is eyeing its second team state title in three years — it won the 2015 Class 1A title while still a member of the Mississippi High School Activities Association — and can get a leg up with Friday’s field events.

Junior Jaylen Whitaker is a heavy favorite to win the shot put title, while Antonio Thompson and Preston McGowan can provide valuable points in the discus and long jump, respectively.

Whitaker won the North State championship last week with a throw 5 ½ feet better than runner-up Kyle Waterbury of Hartfield Academy. He’ll get some stiffer competition this week from Silliman Institute’s Garrett McManus, who threw 48 feet last week to win the South State title by a similar margin.

“The goal for Friday is 51 or 52. It’s probably going to take a good 49 or 50 to win,” Whitaker said. “It’ll take mental toughness, rest and getting ready. It’s those small things that’s going to carry over to a 51 or 52.”

Saturday’s running events figure to be the Donald Woodson show. He was victorious in all six of his events at the North State meet. His time of 41.64 seconds in the 300 hurdles is nearly two seconds ahead of the next-closest seed time, and he’s several tenths better than anyone in the 100 or 200 meters. His closest competition might be teammate Jamar Williams, who lost by two-tenths of a second last week in the 200 and a tenth of a second in the 100.

Williams will also compete in the 400 meters Saturday.

Woodson’s time last week in the 100 was a wind-aided 10.60 seconds. His best time without a tail wind was 10.81. Former St. Al star DeMichael Harris set the overall MAIS record last year with a 10.55 at the state meet.

Woodson wasn’t sure if he could challenge that mark, but certainly hoped so.

“I’m going to say anything is possible. It’s out of reach, but anything is possible,” he said with a smile.

Woodson and Whitaker will try to duplicate the feats last year of Harris and Josh Price. Harris also won the sprint titles — replacing the 400 for Woodson’s hurdles — and Price won the shot put title. Whitaker was fourth in the shot put in 2016.

Both of the current Flashes said they learned from their predecessors and are trying to follow in their footsteps, not just for themselves but to help build St. Al’s track and field tradition.

“Josh helped me. He taught me my main technique to get to the stage I am now,” Whitaker said. “We’re trying to build a winning track program. Two years ago they won state, and we’re trying to get back to that level.”

The Flashes certainly have a chance this weekend. With 17 entries in the state meet, they are expected to contend for the team title with Silliman and Centreville Academy.

Centreville also has 17 entries in the meet, while Silliman has 22. Depth and numbers often win the day in track and field’s team competitions, where every point matters, but St. Al coach Michael Fields said his team’s quality and depth might be enough to gain some separation from the pack.

“It’s going to come down to a three-team battle. We and Centreville have 17 chances to score points, and Silliman has 22 but doesn’t have the depth we have,” Fields said. “If everybody runs to their potential, we have a chance to come out the victor.”

Even though a team title would be the first for the Flashes as a member of the MAIS, Fields said it could also be the birth of a dynasty. Several freshmen and sophomores reached North State before missing the cut, and several others have been injured.

Versatile junior sprinter Connor Bottin, for example, suffered a knee injury during soccer season and has been out for all of track season. Bottin won the Class AAA championship in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles in 2016, and was also a member of several sprint relay teams.

A freshman, Brayden Roesch, cleared 10 feet in the pole vault at North State but lost a tiebreaker and did not advance to the state meet.

Those athletes, plus a few others, will keep the Flashes in the championship hunt beyond this year, Fields said.

“That’s the key to having a winning program, where you have guys that can step in when others are gone,” Fields said. “Next year we have some hidden gems that are going to step in.”

LOCAL ATHLETES AT STATE TRACK MEETS
ST. ALOYSIUS
Boys
Jaylen Whitaker (Shot put)
Antonio Thompson (Discus)
Preston McGowan (Long jump)
Tyler Lewis (800 meters)
Evan Fedell (800 meters)
Donald Woodson (100, 200 meters, 300 hurdles)
Garrett Vincent (110 hurdles)
Jamar Williams (100, 200, 400 meters)
Chandler Rosech (1600 meters)
4×100 relay (Antonio Thompson, Donald Woodson, Preston McGowan, Jamar Williams)
4×200 relay (Antonio Thompson, Donald Woodson, Preston McGowan, Jamar Williams)
4×400 relay (Antonio Thompson, Chandler Roesch, Donald Woodson, Tyler Lewis)
4×800 relay (Evan Fedell, Tyler Lewis, Chandler Roesch, Gregory Thomas)
Girls
Natalie Burke (Triple jump)
Madelyn Polk (1600, 3200, 800 meters)
Dede Apenyo (100, 200, 400 meters)
4×400 relay (Natalie Burke, Ann Elziabeth Farthing, Mary Ranager, Katherine Mathis)

PORTERS CHAPEL ACADEMY
Girls
Shelby Barwick (Long jump, 100 meters)
4×200 relay (Shelby Barwick, Kaylee Hinson, Fayth McDaniel, Cameron Yocum, Rheagan Smith)

TALLULAH ACADEMY
Boys
Parker Morgan (High jump, pole vault)
Joshua Collins (Pole vault, 110 hurdles)
Logan Tullos (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles)
Ryan Hodge (100 meters, 200 meters)
Parker Kivett (800, 1600, 3200 meters)
4×100 and 4×200 relay (Parker Morgan, Ryan Hodge, David Dixon, Walker Sullivan, Logan Tullos, Joshua Collins, Ryan Zheng)
4×200 relay (Parker Morgan, Ryan Hodge, David Dixon, Walker Sullivan, Logan Tullos, Joshua Collins, Ryan Zheng)
4×400 relay (Parker Kivett, Parker Morgan, Walker Sullivan, Logan Tullos, Carter Sullivan, Johnson Zheng)
Girls
Blake Sullivan (Shot put)
Alana Florice (High jump, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles)
Aidan Collins (3200 meters

VICKSBURG HIGH
Boys
Ramsey Fultz (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles)
Deshawn Calvin (100 meters)
4×100 relay (Ramsey Fultz, Deshawn Calvin, Jamaal Jefferson, Nicholas Barnes)
4×200 relay (Jamaal Jefferson, Nicholas Barnes, Cedric Phillips, Deshawn Calvin)
Girls
Char’Davia Anderson (100 hurdles)
Jamiracle Williams (400 meters)
Jordan Davis (300 hurdles)
4×100 and 4×200 relay (Shadia Cain, Taylor Gray, Mikayla Banks, Kiona Patton)
4×400 relay (Jamiracle Williams, Shadia Cain, Brashayla Thomas, Char’Davia Anderson)

WARREN CENTRAL
Boys
Raylon Sayles (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles)
Mason Quimby (High jump)
Girls
Hannah Huntley (1600 meters, 3200 meters)
Coretta Watts (Shot put)
Raven Thompson (High jump)

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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