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State track roundup: Warren County athletes win four titles, 10 medals

FLOWOOD — For most of her race, Cati Mathews heard the footsteps of her opponents nipping at her heels. The harder she ran, the louder they got.

Finally, when she reached the finish line, she had time to look around and realized nobody was there.

Mathews, a St. Aloysius junior, won her first individual track and field state championship on Saturday by wiping out the field in the Class 4A girls’ 300 meter hurdles at the MAIS Overall Meet. Mathews’ winning time of 47.51 seconds was nearly a second ahead of runners-up Chloe Shomon of Simpson Academy and Cayley Pelt of Silliman.

“It’s amazing. At first I was was like, ‘They’re probably on my back’ and I’ve got to keep pushing myself. Then as soon as I passed the finish line I said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s nice,’” Mathews said, adding that the feeling of winning by such a wide margin was “Awesome. It’s just like … power.”

Mathews added another individual medal later in the day by finishing third in the 100 meter hurdles. Hillcrest Christian’s Amber Scott won with a time of 16.06, Park Place’s Emma Katherine Weatherby was second in 16.62, and Mathews outran Silliman’s Annabelle Windham in the last 30 meters to earn the final place on the podium. Mathews clocked a time of 17.06, a tenth of a second ahead of Windham.

Mathews competed in six events total at the MAIS state meet and added a silver medal in the 4×400 meter relay. She teamed with Natalie Burke, Ally Doiron and Lillian Perniciaro in that event.

Mathews was fifth in the high jump on Friday, and fourth in the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays on Saturday.

“It was an OK day. I’m glad I got third instead of fourth, though. I had to push myself,” Mathews said.

St. Al had several other runners win medals on Saturday. Doiron took a bronze with a third-place finish in the 400 meters, and Burke also got a bronze in the 200 meters.

It was Burke’s ninth medal, including relays, in a stellar high school career.

The Lady Flashes finished third in the Class 4A team standings with 70.5 points. Silliman won the team championship with 131.5 points and Hillcrest Christian was second with 97. St. Al, Washington School (69 points) and Bayou Academy (61) rounded out the top five.

Porter’s Chapel Academy only had one individual entrant in the MAIS Class 2A boys’ meet, and he brought home a medal.

It was not the one he wanted, though.

PCA senior Ra’Darius Turner led for the first half of the boys’ 400 meters and then tired badly in the second half. Centreville Academy’s Tucker Lobrano took advantage to catch and then pass Turner for the victory with a time of 52.90 seconds. Turner settled for second place and a silver medal with a time of 53.56 seconds.

Afterward, Turner did not hide his disappointment over the missed opportunity to win a state championship.

“He just gave me a run. He always pushes me when we get to the last 200, and I was pushing him back. He just had a little more push. I ran out of gas. That’s the problem,” Turner said.

Porter’s Chapel won another medal in the day’s final event, as Tyler Washington, Jace Riggs, Ricky Carraway and Willie Rogers finished third in the 4×400 meter relay. The PCA quartet clocked a time of 3 minutes, 50.54 seconds. Centreville Academy won in 3:38.75, and Glenbrook was second in 3:43.30.

St. Aloysius senior sprinter Brennon Williams continued a tradition of St. Al dominance in the sprint events at the MAIS Overall Meet.

Williams won the Class 4A boys’ championship in the 400 meters in 50.32 seconds, and the 200 meters in 22.03, to give him four individual state titles in his high school career. He won the 400 meters and 110 meter hurdles at the 2019 state meet.

“You never want to lose. I just try to focus on getting better,” Williams said. “I try not to compare myself to others that I’m running against. I try to compare myself to the higher levels and I’m not where I need to be.”

Even if Williams felt his times could have been a tick better, he still wound up on top of the podium. He won the 400 meters by about five meters, and the 200 by eight-tenths of a second over Starkville Academy’s Wilkes Stubbs.

“I didn’t finish as strong as I wanted to. I let up a little bit. But a win is a win,” Williams said. “I thought I had a pretty good lead.”

While the MAIS finished its state meet on Saturday, the Mississippi High School Activities Association started theirs. And Warren Central’s Josh Griffin also ended a bit of a drought for his school.

Griffin, a senior, won the Class 6A championship in the boys’ 300 meter hurdles with a time of 39.85 seconds — just .03 seconds ahead of Northwest Rankin’s C.J. Clayton.

It was only the fourth individual championship for Warren Central’s track team in the past decade. Matt Waddle won the pole vault title in 2011 and Caleb Watts the shot put in 2016. Raven Thompson won the girls’ high jump in 2018.

Griffin’s hurdles title was Warren Central’s first in a running event since Fred Payne won the 100 meters in 2005. The Vikings also won state titles that year in the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays that year.

Griffin was the only member of Warren Central’s team, boys or girls, to qualify for the 2021 Class 6A state meet. He also competed in the 110 meter hurdles, but finished fourth with a time of 15.42 seconds. He missed a second medal by fourth-tenths of a second as Northwest Rankin’s Clayton finished third and Pearl’s Corvin Johnson won the race in 14.38 seconds.

The MHSAA Class 2A, 4A and 6A meets were contested on Saturday. Because of bad weather and a rainy forecast for early next week, the Class 1A, 3A and 5A meets — the latter of which includes Vicksburg High ­— were postponed until Thursday, May 6, at noon at Pearl High School.

While all three Warren County schools that were in competition on Saturday had their share of highlights, so did several others from the surrouding counties and parishes. MAIS medalists from Vicksburg-area schools in the Class 1A boys’ meet included:

• Tallulah Academy’s Dee Morgan, Johnson Zheng, Carter Sullivan and Arnett Sevier teams up to win the 4×800 meter relay. The team posted a time of 10:15.49, nearly a minute ahead of their seed time.

• Briarfield Academy’s Undrea Spencer was a double champion in Class 1A, winning the boys’ 400 meter and 800 meter titles.

Spencer won the 400 meter dash with a time of 52.70 seconds. He crushed the field, finishing nearly three seconds ahead of runner-up Roderick Bailey of Wilkinson County Christian.

His victory in the 800 meters was much closer, just .18 seconds ahead of WCCA’s grant Murray. Spencer’s winning time was 2:17.27.

Briarfield’s Markaylon Carraway finished third in the 300 meter hurdles, and Tensas Academy’s Morgan Williams was second.

• Sharkey-Issaquena Academy’s boys’ 4×100 meter relay team of Chris Gibson, Camden Putt, Cedric Bell and Hunter Allen finished third. Tensas Academy’s Morgan Williams, Chris Davis, Sam Paxton and Savino Nuccio won with a time of 46.40 seconds.

The same Tensas relay finished second in the 4×200 and third in the 4×400, and Williams won the 110 meter hurdles with a time 17.40 seconds. Davis won the 100 meter dash in 11.19 seconds.

Tensas Academy finished second in the Class 1A boys’ team standings with 90 points. DeSoto School won the Class 1A championship with 143 points, and North Sunflower was third with 74. Briarfield (58), Tallulah Academy (53) and Sharkey-Issaquena Academy (48) finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

Medalists in the MAIS Class 1A girls’ meet from Vicksburg-area schools during Saturday’s running events included:

• Tallulah Academy’s Faith Kivett won four medals, finishing second in the 100 meters and 200 meters, and teaming with Emma Collins, Carrie Beth Miller and Abigail Kennedy for third-place finishes in both the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays.

Tallulah’s Caroline Marsh brought home a bronze medal in the 100 meter hurdles to help the Lady Trojans compile 72 points and a fourth-place team finish.

DeSoto School scored 180 points to easily win Class 1A girls’ team title. Wilkinson County Christian was second with 136, and Briarfield was third with 103. Sharkey-Issaquena Academy scored 37 points and finished sixth.

• Sharkey-Issaquena Academy’s Julianna Scott finished second to WCCA’s Anna Charlotte Redhead in a remarkable duel in the 800 meters. The two traded the lead several times in the last 100 meters, before Redhead finally nipped Scott at the finish line by three-tenths of a second.

• Briarfield’s Corinne Condrey finished third in the 3,200 meter run, with a time of 14:18.10. She was also fourth in the 1,600 meters and fifth in the 800 meters.

Condrey’s teammate Abigail Payne added a silver medal to a gold she won Friday by finishing second in the 400 meters. Payne won the Class 1A triple jump championship during Friday’s field events.

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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