Kennedi Sanders, Madison Ridgeland 200 metes at Biloxi High
Mississippi Milesplit Fans! The regular season is almost done in Track and Field, as March has come to an end and we are soon moving into divisional meets, beginning the road to the state championships. We have a lot of stellar athletes and performances to cover, some pre-state favorites, a preview of team battles, and so much more! So, with all of that being said, let's cut right to the chase.
It has been the Kennedi Sanders from Madison Ridgeland Academy show in the short sprints this past month. Her state leading times in the 100 and 200 are also ranked in the top 25 in the nation. Her 11.78 in the 100m is ranked #24 nationally, and her 24.02 in the 200m comes in at #17. Sanders just recently traveled to South Carolina to compete at the NSAF USA Meet of Champions, where she made it to the final and placed 3rd in both events. There is no telling what she has in store for us next month, although I am curious to see what she could run in a 400 right now (I'm banking on a sub-55 if she got in a race fast enough). It is unclear what she is planning on running in the next month, but she will be the HEAVY favorite in basically any event she decides to run in at state... We might even see her get the triple crown of sprinting (100m, 200m, 400m) at the MAIS Overall Championships.
Speaking of the MAIS Overall Championships, the rest of Sander's team is also looking very solid after the regular season. As mentioned a month ago in the preview article, we saw that they had the potential to sport a very strong team this Spring, and they have lived up to the hype. Not counting Sanders, who could potentially help score 60 points for the Patriots at state, they are pretty stacked. Starting off, we have hurdler standout, Laurel Fulcher. Specializing in the longer hurdles, she has run the fastest time in the MAIS in the 300mH with a time of 46.79. Fulcer also has the second-fastest time in the MAIS in the 100mH with a time of 16.77, sitting just behind D'ambrah Watts from Jackson Preparatory School. And, astonishingly, she still has more points to give, as she currently sits tied for second in class 5A. Who is tied with her in second? That would be her teammate, Evie Ewing, who is the defending state champion in the 400m dash. Ewing hasn't dropped a race this year on the track and looks to qualify in the 200m, 400m, and LJ at the MAIS Overall Championships this year. So, between those 3 athletes alone, that's roughly 75 points that can potentially be scored at their state meet... and that's not even counting the relays or distance! I can only imagine how filthy that 4x400 is going to be... and will also most likely be the favorites in the 4x100 and 4x200, especially with the likes of Sanders potentially running the anchor leg. Their distance will be fine too, as they are the 2020 MAIS 5A state champions in cross country, and it also looks like Sloane Vinson has found her form from 2019. However, I can assure you that the Jackson Prep ladies squad will be a force to reckon with, as they are surely eyeing MRA down after getting second to MRA in cross country this past year. I can only imagine how good of a race that 4x800 will be at MAIS 5A state this year.
While we're on the subject of the Jackson Prep ladies squad, let's touch upon Julia Stradinger, who currently leads the state in the 1600m (A race that just happened last week where MRA's Sloane Vinson took her to the line). To no one's surprise, Stradinger is still doing what she does best: Winning. As a matter of fact, Stradinger hasn't dropped a race since the 2019 cross country season - that's 11 straight races! I can't wait to see the matchup between her and Vinson at MAIS 5A State, as she will be eyeing to snap Stradinger's winning streak. However, sources say that Stradinger is just getting back in shape after coming off an injury during soccer season... If that is indeed the case, then she will be dangerous once she gets another month of training under her belt. Expect some fast times from the Prep star this next month.
Moving down in distance, specifically, the 800m, we have a newcomer coming onto the running scene, or at least someone I didn't personally see coming. That 'newcomer' is none other than Mallory Streetman, a junior from Gulfport High School. Streetman currently leads the state right now with a 2:26, and is ahead of names like Brooklyn Biancamano and Stradinger. She hasn't dropped a race in the 800m, with her closest race being around A 4-second margin. Her PR of 2:26 at the All State Relays was a race in which she won by 8 seconds, which is a pretty big gap in an 800. If she has someone take her to the line, I would have to think that she can get in the 2:23 range... especially if there is a state championship on the line. She also has 61-second quarter speed, so she obviously has some wheels on her. Whether she will try the 400/800 double at state is unknown, but I would have to say that she is the current favorite in MHSAA 6A in the 800m, the toughest class of them all. Interestingly enough, she has also been dabbling in the High Jump PR, and has a respectable PR of 5-0, which is currently tied for 4th in MHSAA 6A. If she were able to pull together a win in the 800, and 2 more podium finishes in the 400 and High Jump, then that would have to be a 'triple performance' for the ages.
Speaking of High Jump, let's talk about our current state leader from Jackson Academy, Sara Carnathan. Carnathan is way out in front with a PR of 5-5, which is just 2 inches short of being top 20 in the nation. It looks like the High Jump is her specialty event, and she will be almost guaranteed 10 points for the raiders in May at the MAIS Overall Championships. Something to look out for next month is if she can continue her improvement in the event, and see if she can crack the top 50 nationally.
Right behind Carnathan in the state High Jump rankings, and someone who has been doing it all for the lady Pirates, is Thai Douglas from Pearl High School. Douglas is easily the most versatile athlete in the state right now. She has found a lot of success in the hurdles this year, securing PR's in both the 100H and 300H, winning every hurdle race that she has been in. The only track event that she has not won is the Triple Jump at the Northwest Rankin Madison Dual Meet. Every other event, though, she has placed first... winning 11 out of 12 so far this year. In the High Jump for this year, she has won all 3 of her competitions, currently with a season-best of 5-2, which is tied for #1 in MHSAA 6A right now. However, Douglas has jumped 5-5 before, so if she finds her groove in that event, she will certainly be one to look out for. Seeing how she is currently sitting at the top of the 100H in MHSAA 6A, and a close 3rd in the 300H, not to mention that she hasn't lost in either event this year, I would have to think that she will go for the Hurdle double at state this year. And, possibly top it off with a title in the High Jump. Douglas is one to keep your eye on this year folks, as she will be giving it her all across many disciplines to help the Lady Pirates to another state title.
Now that we're talking about the women's MHSAA 6A State meet, let's talk about how crazy it is going to be this year. Generally, 6A state is the toughest class to make in the state, and that is definitely the case this year. It will be a great meet to watch, especially in the distance events. The distance events are DEEP, especially with the likes of Riley Jackson from Hernando High School, the current class leader in the 1600m, Brookelyn Morgan of Tupelo High School and the current class leader of the 3200m, and Daeja Davis from Pearl High School, the 2020 MHSAA 6A State Champion in cross country. Throw in Katelyn Cartwright, Shana Sellers, Isabella Wheeler from Ocean Springs High School, and not to mention Streetman in the 800... it's going to be crazy. It's going to take around 5:45 in the 1600m and 12:10 in the 3200m just to get to the line this year. Also, look for Hernando to try and qualify 3 girls individually, as they currently have 3 in the top 4 of the North State rankings, with Jackson, Cartwright, and Madison McMillen.
The 400m dash in MHSAA 6A will also be a race to watch, as a much-liked distance, is very deep this year. Currently, in MHSAA 6A, there are 11 girls that have broken 62 in the 400 this year, with Gracyn Yelverton from Biloxi High School leading the way with a 59.95. Just to get to the state meet, it's going to take at least a 61.50, and there are a ton of girls that can do that this year. It's going to be anyone's race once we get to May, and I think it's a toss-up between Yelverton, Taylor Wingo from D'iberville High School, or Victoria Taylor from Pearl High School.
Another name to look out for in MHSAA 6A is a pre-season standout from Biloxi High School, Cheyanne Alston. Alston was someone who was fairly young and new to the sport of track and field, yet we knew that she had some untapped potential. Sure enough, we were right, as she has made some huge improvements in the Long Jump this year. She currently leads the state in the event as she is the lone girl that has jumped over 18 feet this year, a feat that she accomplished at the All State Relays. It looks like every meet she keeps getting better, so we will definitely need to keep track and see what she does in the weeks leading up to the State Meet.
Lenasia Drummond, Hattiesburg High In a Close 100 hurdles
Lenasia Drummond from Hattiesburg High School has been setting the 100mH on fire this year. She currently has the fastest time in the state, a 14.77 at her home track at the Hattiesburg High Invitational, and is the only girl to have gone under 15 seconds this year. She has won all 7 of her races this year in the event. Drummond also has a very respectable PR of 46.96 in the 300mH, and the hurdle double probably something that we can expect to see from her on the track at MHSAA 6A state this year as she currently leads MHSAA 5A in both events. Drummond is also currently leading 5A in the Long Jump as well, so we can expect her to score as much as 30 points at state this year. She will, however, have some competition in the hurdles, as Kalli Husband from Laurel High School and Kayleigh Prentiss from Center Hill High School are not far behind in the two hurdle events in MHSAA 5A. Let's expect some great racing and fast times come championship season in the hurdles from these 3 ladies... Some crazy fast times can be run when there is a state championship on the line.
One last name to point out in Class MHSAA 5A is Madison Jones from Saltillo High School. Jones has only raced once this outdoor season. Funny enough, that one time is still good enough to lead the state, as she went 11:28 in the 3200m at the Pontotoc Invitational last week, winning by 25 seconds. I think she is fit and ready to crack the 5-minute barrier in the 1600m in outdoor next month, a feat that only 3 girls have accomplished in Mississippi high school history.
The last thing that I would like to point out are some names that we haven't seen that much, or even at all, this outdoor season. For starters, Brooklyn Biancamano, Long Beach has only raced once this season, which was a 3200m/800m double at the Hurricane Meet a few weeks ago. However, this weather has been throwing everyone off, and with Biancamano being from the coast, she could be a victim of having meets getting canceled in all of this unfortunate weather (It should also be noted that it has been rumored that Long Beach High School's track has had some flood damage). Another distance star that we haven't seen since December is Sophie Santucci from Tupelo Christian Prep School. She raced at 2 meets in the indoor season, which were a pair of 5:17 1600s and a 2:24 800m. Both of these times would be leading the state right now. However, she has been off the grid since. If she is injured, then let's hope for a quick and speedy recovery for Santucci, so that we can see her blaze the track this outdoor season!
Well, that about covers it all on the lady's side of things as we are approaching the halfway point in the season! With the way things are shaping up to be, and with the way cross country season went last year, I expect over half of the state leading marks to keep going down. As always, the Mississippi Milesplit offers the best of luck to all who are competing this next month, and hope that the weather holds off so that we can get some fast meets in! To those that have put the work in and are striving to get to the line at state next month, we hope that it all pays off, and hope to see you at Pearl-MHSAA/Jackson Prep-MAIS meets in a month!