*UPDATE: MEET HAS BEEN MOVED TO MONDAY, MAY 3*
Milesplit Fans!!! This is the weekend that we have all been waiting for... State Championship weekend! All the hype around all of the performances this year will be bundled up into one meet, which features a showdown between the best of the best in each class. These athletes have worked hard to get where they have gotten, surviving 3 different qualifying meets to narrow it down to the eight best athletes in each class in the state of Mississippi. As always, we have a LOT to cover, and I unfortunately can only pick a few athletes and races to look out for and skim over them. If I were to do my normal in-depth evaluations on each event, then Christian Balcer could probably run a full marathon by the time we got done reading. So, let's go ahead and get right into it.
Speaking of Balcer... this is unfortunately probably one of the last times he will be covered in high school coverage in Mississippi. However, all good things must come to an end, and we can expect Balcer to go out with a bang. Rumor has it that Balcer is going for the state record meet in the 3200m, which is held by East Central High School alumni Jake Raines. With the state meet atmosphere, and the fact that this will be his last chance to rip one on the track in high school, could we see Mississippi's first ever sub-9 in the 3200m. He is definitely good enough to do it. He has already soloed a 9:11 3200m this year, and it seems like every time I throw some crazy prediction about him, he comes through and gets it done. However, state record or not, Balcer has been truly spectacular his senior year, and we will surely hate to see him go, but he is on par to do some great things in his collegiate career.
Next up, some guys to look out for in Class 3A would be the speedy Tylertown High School duo of Jordan Anthony and Jeremiah Dillon. They have already thrown down some insane times this year, and will most likely score around 60 points for their school combined once you factor in their relays. They will, however, have something coming to them in the relays, as Port Gibson has put together some solid times in the sprint relays this year. As a matter of fact, they are the favorites in the 4x400, as they ran a mind boggling 3:26 at South State, beating Tylertown. They are also right behind Tylertown in the 4x200. Like I said earlier though, special things happen at state, and we could maybe see some insane legs from Dillon and Anthony in the 4x400, as closing out a meet with a W in the 4x400 is quite possibly the biggest flex at a track and field meet.
In 1A boys, the one to look out for ailing from Tupelo Christian Prep School would be Causey Simmons. Simmons, the 2020 MHSAA 1A State Champion in cross country, has thrown down some very quality marks on the track this year, especially in the 3200m. He is one of the few athletes that have broken 10 this year on the track, and actually ranks #3 in the whole state across all divisions with a 9:53. It looks like he has been taking it easy through the qualifiers to get to state, as he is going for the triple crown in his last state championship. As a matter of fact, his little brother, Bounds Simmons, could possibly get second to him in each distance race, so that will be something to look out for this weekend. This is a feat that they almost accomplished in cross country. I can't remember the last time a family has pulled off a triple crown in the state meet, but that is a very realistic goal for the Simmons brothers this Friday.
Moving back over to 5A, another athlete that we will have to keep our eye on would be the jumps stud from Hattiesburg High School, Camrun Norman. In the High Jump, Norman is already one of the best ever out of class 5A, as he has cleared 6-10. The state meet record, according to our records, is 6-10, held by Matt Denton from East Central back in 2001. Norman will surely be eyeing that mark this weekend, and we could perhaps even see him crack the 7 feet barrier for the first time in his career. Norman will also be looking to perform the triple crown of jumps this Friday as well, as he is also the favorite in both the long and triple jump. He leads class 5A in both of those as well. Expect some big time marks from Norman this weekend, and if I were you, I would try and make my way over to the High Jump pit around noon to watch Norman this Friday. I also have to say that even though Norman is one of the best in 5A history, it will not be a cakewalk for him in the HJ, as Cleveland Central HS Josh Khirkam will be coming for Norman, as Khirkam is coming off of a 6-8 clearance at North half this past weekend, and is carrying a lot of momentum into this weekend.
Finally, the last male athlete that has some stardom to his name would be one of the best throwers in the state, from Senatobia High School, LaJoshua Jackson. Jackson has won every single throws competition that he has been in this year, something that is very hard to do in the Shot and Discus. His progression has been trending upwards as of late, and Jackson looks poised to throw some BOMBS this Friday. In the shot put, Jackson's PR is a mere 4 feet away from the 3A state meet record. If something special is in the air over by the throws pit on Friday, Jackson could potentially make something special happen and snag that record.
Though there will be plenty of exciting races to watch this weekend, the race of the weekend will possibly be the 300mH in Class 3A. This will be an absolute dog fight between three athletes: Kendrell Robertson from Tylertown, and Jabrysten Abram and Canon Crockett from Senatobia. Kendrell Robertson leads Class 3A with a 40.63, and has remained undefeated throughout the state-qualifying season. Just 0.03 seconds behind him is Abram, who has run 40.66 at the beginning of this month. And, Abram's only two losses this season have come from his teammate Crockett, who most recently took the win last week at their North half championships. Between these 3, the gold medal could go to any one of them, and expect a thriller out of this one this coming Friday.
Moving over to the ladie's side of things, the first event to preview would be the Class 5A 100m dash. It is always interesting to see what happens when 2 undefeated athletes(*qualifying season*) race against each other at state, and that is exactly what is happening this Friday, with Brookhaven High School's Kyja Willis facing off against Ridgeland High School's Valencia Watson. Willis has to be the on-paper favorite, as she has the faster PR of 12.31, which she just ran last week at South State, and has the better strength of schedule. Her lone loss in every race that she has run this year was at the beginning of the season to Jardon Badon from Tylertown, a heavy favorite in Class 3A. Willis won in both the 100m and 200m at the stacked Pearl Invitational, taking down some names like Badon, and heavy 6A sprint favorites like Addison McLauren and Taylor Stratton. Her 25.05 she ran at South State also raised some eyebrows, and it looks like she is running fast at the right time of the year. However, it's called a track meet for a reason, and anything can happen. Especially at the state championships.
Another highly anticipated matchup to look out for in Class 5A are debatably the 2 best distance runners in the state... Madison Jones from Saltillo High School and Brooklyn Biancamano from Long Beach High School. Jones has been on fire this year, as she leads the state across all divisions in all 3 distance events, though she is only competing in the 800 and 1600 this Friday. Jones has run a speedy 2:21 in the 800m, as well as her first ever sub-5 in the 1600 to go with it, which puts her at #4 all-time in the event. #3 on the all-time list... is none other than Biancamano. I absolutely can not wait to see this matchup, as the 1600 and 800 will be a race for the ages, and it will be a long time before two girls this good can match up against each other at a state championship. This will be a race for the ages, and the results will for sure go down in the record books.
Another female athlete to watch for is Lenasia Drummond from Hattiesburg High School, perhaps the most versatile athlete in the state. At the MHSAA 5A South State Championships, she won the 100mH, 300mH, Long Jump, and Triple Jump. She ranks top 5 in the state in all divisions in all 4 disciplines, and leads the state in the 100mH with a time of 14.67. Like teammate Norman, however, as impressive as her south state performance was, Drummond does not have all 4 events locked in for state. More specifically, she will have some competition coming to her in the 100mH, as the #2 ranked runner in the state is also in class 5A, Laurel High School's Kalli Husband. Drummond is definitely the favorite, as she hasn't lost to a Mississippian all year, and it seems like she is running her fastest times when it counts based off of her south state performance. According to our records, to get inside the top 10 all time in the state of Mississippi, you need to run 14.45, just 0.22 seconds off of Drummond's PR. If she has the right day, Drummond could possibly crack the top 10 all time list.
Unfortunately, that's about all the time that we have regarding individual performances... However, below is a list of what I / the stats say on what might happen in the team battles this Friday. Check it out:
1A BOYS | Favorites: TCPS - Thanks to the Simmons brothers, short sprint specialist Khi Holiday, thrower Tucker Huggins, Pole Vault duo Josh Berry and Carson Kessler, AND Destaan Buchanan in the High Jump. This team just has too much firepower in distance and spread out all around, and I can't see them losing this Friday.
1A GIRLS | Favorites: French Camp High School - French Camp is dominant in distance and they are pretty strong in throws too... not having Sophie Santucci this year really hurt TCPS. Middle distance ace Taylor Benoit is doing some huge favors for French Camp as she will try to pull off the 400m/800m double, and they have 8 qualifiers total spread across the distance races. That, along with Jasmine Bonty in the throws, will probably prove too strong for anyone else in Class 1A this weekend.
3A BOYS | Favorites: Senatobia High School - On paper, it looks like Senatobia is going to take the win this weekend. However, Tylertown High School is definitely in the hunt for that title, but Senatobia is looking to score around 30 points off of them in the distance events, and probably another 20 in throws, and that is going to be a very tough task for the Tylertown sprinters and hurdlers to try and make up that gap.
3A GIRLS | Favorites: Tylertown High School - So I put Tylertown as the favorite because they are on paper... But this will be a VERY tight battle between Tylertown, St. Andrew's HS, and Senatobia. St Andrews is heavily dependent on distance, a very strong squad led by Kate Simms and Emily Ireland, and have 3 qualifiers in each distance race. Tylertown is vice versa, as they are depending on their sprinters and jumpers to carry them through, as they will probably put up 30 points on both schools in just the sprints, as Jardon Badon and Sha'Derika Robertson are looking to sweep the podium in the 100m and 200m. Senatobia is very spread out and deep all around, and if Tylertown or Senatobia has a bad day in one of their strong suites, Senatobia could for sure sneak in and snag the team title.
5A BOYS | Favorites: Brookhaven High School - This is easily the closest team battle to call. This title could go either way to Brookhaven, or Hattiesburg High School. The only reason I put Brookhaven is they just narrowly took the victory at South State, but this Friday is a whole different story. In order for each team to win, either Hattiesburg needs to score 50 points in the jumps, or Brookhaven needs 50 in distance. This is going to be a TIGHT one folks... The battle could literally come down to which out of these two teams beats each other in the 4x100 and 4x200.
5A GIRLS | Favorites: Hattiesburg High School - Hattiesburg is way out front in this one, as Lenasia Drummond is doing them a lot of favors this weekend. However, Saltillo High School, carried heavily by distance, and Brookhaven, are definitely in the hunt, but this is Hattiesburg's meet to lose this Friday.
Action starts at 11:00 AM at Pearl HS on Friday, April 30. Parents, coaches, fans... GET LOUD!!! I can personally attest to being able to say that there is no better feeling than racing in a loud crowd. This is the meet that counts, and deserves to have a lot of hype around it, and this is the fan's chance to make a difference in the races. As always, Mississippi Milesplit wishes all athletes competing good luck this weekend! This is the best of the best, and everyone that is competing deserves to be there.