Vicksburg wins four individual titles, Missy Gators finish second at Class 6A state meet

Published 1:39 am Sunday, May 5, 2024

PEARL — Vicksburg High’s official colors are green, white and black. On Saturday, it added plenty of gold and silver highlights.

The Gators and Missy Gators won four state championships, finished second in four other events, and posted a second-place finish in the girls’ team standings at the MHSAA Class 6A state track and field meet.

“We came and we did what we were supposed to do, and I’m proud of everybody,” said VHS senior Rodrianna Hall, who finished second in the long jump and triple jump.

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The Missy Gators entered the final event, the 4×400 meter relay, with a chance to win the school’s first team state championship since 1988. The squad of Shaniyah Walker, Jekeyla Curry, Makynzie Edmond and Terri Boyd finished fifth, however, with a time of 4:17.68.

Hattiesburg won the event in 4:06.73, and the six-point swing from the result gave the Tigers a 73-71 victory over the Missy Gators.

It was a rare down moment on an otherwise stellar day for the program.

Walker won two state championships, an individual one in the 400 meters and another with her relay teammates Aubrey Turner, To’nia Taylor and Amiya Hall in the 4×400.

Eighth-grader Zion Knox won the triple jump, with Hall finishing second.

And on the boys’ side, Koury Vample completed an undefeated season in the 300 meter hurdles. He finished third in the event last year.

“It’s good. I’ve been up there a couple of times, but every time you get up there it’s just good,” Vample said.

In the girls’ 4×200, Walker took advantage of a late stumble by Jim Hill’s Jo’Niya Spires with less than 25 meters to go to win. As Spires tripped and fell, Walker alertly avoided her flailing legs and made it to the finish line unscathed.

Walker was in fourth place when she was handed the baton and made up most of the gap to first place by the time she turned the curve for the final 100-meter straightaway. She didn’t think Spires’ fall affected the race’s result, since she was gaining and about to pass Spires anyway.

“All I know is I was coming up on her and she just fell. She stumbled and fell. I was coming up on her anyways,” Walker said.

In the 400 meters, Walker narrowly avoided her own disaster. Exhausted, she stumbled and fell as she crossed the finish line with a blistering time of 57.41 seconds. Lake Cormorant’s Destiny Lucas was second, in 58.34 seconds.

“My last time was a 58.15, so it’s a big PR. I tripped over myself. But I’m good,” Walker said. “I always wanted to come and win the 400 for as long as I’ve been at Vicksburg High, and I finally did it.”

In the triple jump, Knox edged out her teammate Hall for the gold medal. Knox won with a mark of 35 feet, 8 inches, and Hall was second at 35-4.

“It feels good. It feels real good. I like it,” Knox said. “I definitely thought it would come true. I had my mind on the triple jump all day. I just knew it.”

The triple jump result was a reversal of their head-to-head battle in the long jump, where Hall finished second with a leap of 16-9 1/2 and Knox was fourth at 16-7.

“It was easier (losing) since she was my teammate, and she’s going to be real good. It’s like I’m passing the crown down to her,” Hall said.

Hall also joined teammate Makynzie Edmond in the high jump, although neither one placed. Edmond finished fourth with a height of 4 feet, 10 inches, and Hall was eighth at 4-8.

Vicksburg’s other entries in the girls’ meet were Kennedy Williams and Jamiya Stewart, who were fourth and seventh, respectively, in the discus.

Vicksburg’s boys’ team won three medals — Vample’s gold in the 300 hurdles and two silvers by Tyler Henderson — although the latter two were a little bittersweet.

Henderson was undefeated in the triple jump until Saturday, when Pascagoula’s Demetrius Taite leaped 46-4 3/4 to snatch the Class 6A championship from him. Henderson had a mark of 45-10 3/4 that was a foot and a half better than third-place finisher Romen Williams of Ridgeland.

“(Taite) was jumping all 43s and busted out with a 46. I don’t even know. He got it. I just have to congratulate him on that,” Henderson said. “I’m just very thankful for being in this situation. Most people don’t even make it to state, and I made it to state and came in second in two of my events. I’m thankful for that.”

While the triple jump was Henderson’s best event — he won the Class 5A championship in 2023 — he did pretty well this season with a little side project.

The senior started running the 100 meters in March and came within a couple of steps of winning a state championship. Henderson clocked a time of 10.81 seconds Saturday, which was good for second place. Ridgeland’s Jamari Page won in 10.69 and Columbus’ Jerquaviou Lowery was third in 10.84.

“The 100 is something I just started this year. I like where I’m at. I’ll take second place,” Henderson said. “My first time in the 100 was a 10.8. After that I’m on the 100 from now on.”

Henderson added that he was pleased with his overall performance over the past three seasons. He won a total of four medals and one state title in his high school career.

“I’m just adding on to my state medals. I’ve got four in all. That’s a good way to end my senior season, and dealing with sports,” he said. “I’m very, very thankful for my coaches and family, and my school for getting me to where I’m at.”

Vample seemed less thrilled about his season, even though it ended with a trip to the top step of the podium. After winning the 300 hurdles in 39.30 seconds he sat on the track for a moment flashing a smile that seemed as much relief as joy.

The Hinds Community College football signee was a medal contender in the 100 meter hurdles, but clipped a hurdle and fell during the Region 2-6A meet and was eliminated from the postseason. He won the region title in the 100 meters, then got knocked out at the North State meet last week.

He was obviously happy to win the 300, but also seemed to be thinking about what could have been.

“This year wasn’t the best because I usually do more than one event,” Vample said. “This was my first time doing one event, so it was easy doing one event. It wasn’t too much to brag about.”

The Gators also had three athletes competing in the field events, although none placed.

Senior Korzabian Hill capped his first season competing in the shot put by making a state meet appearance and finishing seventh, with a throw of 41 feet, 9 inches.

Sophomores Jayden Woods and Shaun Archer both competed in the discus and finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Despite their limited roster, the Gators totaled 33 points and finished seventh in the team standings. Hattiesburg won the team title with 114 points.

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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