Sports column: Vicksburg has a remarkable run of track champions

Published 10:30 am Monday, May 29, 2023

State championships have been hard to come by for a lot of our high school teams in Warren County.

It’s been 13 years since St. Aloysius won the last baseball state title. Porter’s Chapel (2013) and Vicksburg (2003) are the only boys’ basketball teams to hang banners from this century, and our four football teams have combined for one championship game appearance in the past 28 seasons.

There is one sport, however, in which our local athletes have put together not just a steady stream of postseason success but a remarkable streak of championships.

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When Warren Central’s Jonathan Henderson won the Class 6A high jump and Vicksburg’s Tyler Henderson the Class 5A triple jump at their respective state meets earlier this month, it extended Warren County’s streak of having at least one track and field state champion to 31 years.

The last time — other than 2020, when there was no state meet because of the COVID pandemic — that Warren County came home without a gold medal from the state meets was in 1991.

The streak started with Warren Central’s Jerrold Brooks winning the Class 5A boys’ 110 meter hurdles in 1992. Ever since then, athletes from all four high schools in the River City have not only won in nearly every event on the card, they’ve won big. A number of the champions did it with record-setting performances.

Warren County athletes hold six current state records in the Mississippi High School Activities Association and seven in the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools. One of those, St. Aloysius discus thrower Pat Evans’ MHSAA Class 1A record of 158 feet, 11 inches, survived its 40th consecutive challenge this May. Others set records that were broken over the years.

Vicksburg’s Terrell Smith has held the MHSAA overall record of 21.03 seconds in the boys’ 200 meters since 2014. Another Warren County sprinter, St. Al’s DeMichael Harris, bettered that mark in 2016 by going 20.87 seconds at the MAIS state meet.

Harris remains the only high school sprinter in Mississippi to ever run the 200 meters in less than 21 seconds at a state championship meet. He also holds the unique distinction of holding state records in both the MHSAA and MAIS.

Harris set the MHSAA Class 1A record in the 100 meters (10.75 seconds) and 400 meters (48.52 seconds) in 2015, when St. Al was a member of that association. The school moved to the MAIS that summer, and Harris set the MAIS overall records in both of those events as well as the 100 meters (10.55 seconds) and 200 meters (20.87) as a senior in 2016.

As we celebrate the 2023 Vicksburg Post All-Warren County track and field team in this weekend’s edition, it seems likely that the championship streak will continue for the foreseeable future.

Both Tyler and Jonathan Henderson are juniors and will be contenders again in 2024. Vicksburg’s Koury Vample won two medals in the hurdles this year and will also be back for his senior year.

Jonathan Henderson, who high jumped 6 feet, 10 inches this year, should challenge the Class 6A record of 6-11 1/2.
The girls’ teams for Vicksburg and Warren Central both had several underclassmen reach the state meet. St. Al and VHS had eighth-graders get that far.

Football will probably always be Vicksburg’s favorite high school sport. We’ve had some really good baseball and basketball teams over the years. But when it comes to track and field, this city’s tradition can rival anyone’s. Let’s see how long we can keep it rolling and pass the baton all the way through another generation.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

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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