The MAIS Overall Championships are now and over and done, and I have to say that when I was first looking at the results... I was stunned. Before I say anything highlighting any athletes on their performances, this is the best state meet the MAIS has ever had as a whole, and I have to offer my congratulations to all of the athletes, coaches, volunteers, and officials that made it happen, and should be very proud of their efforts and accomplishments this year.
So, First off... KENNEDI SANDERS. I think we all knew that Sanders was going to impact the MAIS State Meet in a big way, but even I did not think that she was going to show up and show out that big. Before we even get started on her state meet performance, just 6 days prior, she ran unattached at a club meet in Georgia, where she won the 100m and 200m running a mind blowing 11.61 and 23.77. However, Sanders was just getting started. 6 days later, she easily pulled off the triple crown of the 100m, 200m, and 400m, running 11.66 in the 100m, which is a class 5A record. In the 200m, she ran a PR of 23.36, an MAIS Overall Record and the first MAIS female to break 24 seconds in the 200m. The crazy thing is, I haven't even gotten to the good part yet. Because in the 400m, Sanders an absolutely astounding time of 53.54 seconds, breaking the MAIS record by over 3.5 seconds, and being the first high school female to break 54 in the 400m since Ridgeland High School's Bianca Knight, who went on to win an NCAA title and represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Now that is some good company to be in. It is unknown what Sander's schedule looks like this summer, but expect her to light up the track wherever she decides to compete next.
Another female athlete that had an impressive outing was Hillcrest's Mylani Galbreath. Galbreath also ran sub-12 in the 100m dash to win Class 4A. On Top of that, she also jumped a spectacular 19-4 in the Long Jump, which was a MAIS State Meet Record. She also leads the state in the Long Jump by a foot, and her mark puts her at #31 on the national rankings. Mylani had a very 'under-the-radar' good track season, a season in which she never dropped a race in the 100m or 200m, but the MAIS Overall Championships was her coming out party, and she showed up in a big way.
Moving over to the hurdles, Laurel Fulcher had a fantastic outing, as she ran a state leading time of 46.04 in the 300mH for the win in Class 5A, and then came back to run her first sub 16 of her career in the 100mH placing second. It is unclear on if Fulcher will run the Mississippi Meet of Champions, but if she decides to, she looks to be the pre-race favorite, and is poised to run under 46 seconds in the 300mH and perhaps snag another PR.
Just in case y'all haven't noticed... Julia Stradinger STILL has not lost. That is now 17 straight that she has won, dating all the way back from the 2019 cross country season. Stradinger pulled off the 800m/1600m double, and I've got to think she was also a part of Jackson Prep's 4x800m relay victory as well. I believe that Stradinger will be a part of the Mississippi Meet of Champions, though I don't know what event, but I would say that she would be one of the favorites in whatever event she chooses, and is slated for a big PR.
Speaking of the MAIS distance races, they were historically deep and competitive this year. The times that were run to win a lot of the respective class championships were much faster than previous years, and besides Sid Stegall, it seemed like almost no one had a solo victory. You know the meet was deep when 1:58 guy Preston Speed gets beat in the 800m. I will say, Speed was coming off of a 3200m win, 4x800m win, and a 1600m win, but back in the day, Speed's talent would have been able to pull that off easily. The competition in the MAIS is moving in the right direction, and I hope they continue to do so in the future.
So, speaking of Sidney Stegall, he possibly had the best state meet out of everybody, and absolutely no one saw it coming. He soloed the 3200m in a respectable 10:12, but Stegall was just getting started. The next day, Stegall won the 1600m in 4:34, and then came back and won the 800m in 1:59. That's not a typo... a 4:34 and 1:59!!! Those are some real times to solo, and he's just a sophomore. I wish we could have seen more of Stegall during the regular season, as his first meet of the year was his district meet, but I definitely want to see what else he has got in him at the Mississippi Meet of Champions.
Over to field action, we have Clinton Christian's Joe Thomas. Thomas jumped 6-6 in the High Jump, which tied the class record in 3A. This was a very impressive performance from Thomas, and his progression this season, and in his career, has been skyrocketing. Thomas is a junior, so we will have to say if he can go for the MAIS Overall Record next year, and we also might get to see him improve on his mark if he decides to compete at the Mississippi Meet of Champions.
Finally, the last athlete to be highlighted for his efforts from the MAIS State meet is shot putter Roury McCloyen from St. Joseph Catholic School. Mcloyen threw 54-8.5 to win the class 2A Shot Put, and threw 55-5.5 the week before at South State. Like Stegall, Mcloyen's season was very minimal, so he was not really able to develop throughout the season. However, the crazy thing is McCloyen is just a freshman, so we will see him for many years to come, and he will surely improve on his already solid marks from the 2021 season. Throwing mid-50's in the Shot Put as a freshman is no joke, and watch out for McCloyen in the future.