2023 All-County Track: Vicksburg’s Henderson makes the leap to state champion, Athlete of the Year

Published 4:00 am Sunday, May 28, 2023

Tyler Henderson learned how to triple jump in 10 minutes.

Two years ago, at the Little Six Championship meet, a late scratch created an opening in the lineup. Henderson was a promising freshman long jumper but had never done the triple jump, which requires a bit more technique.

“We had about 10 minutes while the others were doing their run-throughs, so I told him to watch them and see what they do,” said Vicksburg High girls’ track coach Deatra Cable, who was officiating the triple jump that day and grabbed Henderson when the Gators needed another participant.

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Henderson watched. He learned. He won.

Henderson jumped 41 feet, 1 inch — nearly 5 feet better than his nearest challenger — to take home a gold medal, and an instant love of the triple jump was born.

“I came first and jumped a 40. To say it was my first time, I did pretty good,” Henderson said. “Ever since I learned that my ninth-grade year, I just liked it more than long jump. It’s always been fun and easy to me.”

It took 10 minutes to learn, and two years for Henderson to master. This May he returned to Pearl High School, where he first learned the basics of the triple jump, and took home another gold medal in the event.

This one included the words “State Champion” as the best male triple jumper in MHSAA Class 5A. A few weeks later, the Vicksburg High junior is climbing to the top of the podium again as The Vicksburg Post’s boys’ track and field Athlete of the Year.

“It’s pretty cool to be Player of the Year, to see how hard I worked and how much I accomplished. It’s a pretty big deal,” Henderson said.

Henderson was rarely challenged this season. He won the triple jump in six of the eight meets he competed in, and four of those victories were by 3 feet or more. The two losses came at the Division 4-5A meet and the Southern Miss High School Invitational, and he finished second in both.

The Southern Miss Invitational was an all-star meet in which Henderson finished second out of 35 competitors.

“Some meets, all I did was jump one time and sit down the rest of the meet,” Henderson said.

At the Class 5A state meet on May 10, that’s all he needed to do. His opening jump of 46 feet, 9 1/2 inches set the mark no one could match. Seven other challengers had six jumps apiece to beat it, and the closest anyone came was Ridgeland’s Romen Williams at 43-10.

Henderson finished second at the Class 5A state meet in 2022, and said getting the gold medal this year was his driving goal all season.

“It means a lot. I worked hard for this,” Henderson said. “I have a pretty big bragging right to say I’m a state champion, because most people don’t win state in track. It’s pretty hard. You’ve got to go through four meets.”

Although he’s now the king of the triple jump in Class 5A, Henderson still begrudgingly returns to his long jump roots every now and then. He’s simply too good at the event to completely let it go.

Henderson won several times in the long jump this year and qualified for the state meet. He finished fifth with a mark of 21 feet, 11 inches that was only four inches short of second place.

“The first meet, Coach (Shaun) Archer told me, ‘I’m going to put you in long jump and see what you do. Ever since then he started putting me in long jump. It’s been pretty annoying,” Henderson said with a laugh. “I was trying to pick up another medal at state, but I don’t even practice long jump. I just try the triple. Long jump is natural, though.”

2023 – Tyler Henderson, Vicksburg
2022 – Daniel Llopis, Porter’s Chapel
2021 – Brennon Williams, St. Aloysius
2020 – No winner (COVID)
2019 – Brennon Williams, St. Aloysius
2018 – Connor Bottin, St. Aloysius
2017 – Donald Woodson, St. Aloysius
2016 – DeMichael Harris, St. Aloysius
2015 – DeMichael Harris, St. Aloysius
2014 – Terrell Smith, Vicksburg

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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