The Weekend Ahead: The Last Chance

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The 2023 Last Chance Invitational is this weekend, and promises not to disappoint! Many of the top Mississippi teams and athletes are making the trip to Birmingham to compete in what is probably the last indoor meet of the season for most. This meet will also serve as a good preview of what to look for in the outdoor season. Top performances here are generally great signs of the things to come. 

The 60-Meter Showdown

*Tacherria Lawson at the 2022 Madison Central Season Opener

Photo credits: Drew Lewis

Mississippi's No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 fastest sprinters in the High School Girls' 60-meter dash will face off once more at the Last Chance Invitational.

This includes the Clinton dynamic duo of Tacherria Lawson and Zharia Bonner. Lawson is currently the top-ranked girl in the 60m dash in Mississippi.

RANKINGS: Mississippi High School Girls 60m Dash List

So far, her season's top performance was her first race at the Magic City Invitational, winning with a mark of 7.71 seconds. Bonner also had a noteworthy season, running consistently in the low 7.80 range, and is will surely in pursuit to break the 7.80 barrier.

The next biggest Mississippi name in this race is Pearl's Taylor Stratton, the 2021 MHSAA 6A 100m Champion.

RESULTS: 2021 MHSAA 6A Track and Field Championships

Stratton is tied with Malia Scott of Meridian for the No. 4 spot in Mississippi at 7.97 seconds. With this being both Clinton and Pearl's last races until outdoor, end-of-the-season rankings are on the line. With the competitiveness of the field and the season finale stakes, this will surely be one of the most exciting races of the day.

Santucci's Return

*Sophie Santucci at the 2022 Tennessee River Classic

Photo credits: MileSplit Alabama

Tupelo High School junior Sophie Santucci has not raced in an indoor competition since 2020.

During that indoor season, Santucci won all three races she competed in. This included a 1600m win at the 2020 Magic City Invitational in a time of 5:17.

Her other two races were at the 2020 Holiday Invitational. She won both the 800m and the 1600m with times of 2:24 and 5:17, respectively.

This was all done while she was racing for TCPS. Since her transfer, this will be her first time suiting up on the indoor track for Tupelo High School. 

Womack Dominance

*Meagan Womack at the 2022 MHSAA 6A North State Championships

Photo credits: Christian Leach

Meagan Womack, the Mississippi High School Girls' record holder in the Indoor Shot Put, is back at it at the Last Chance Invitational.

Womack is undefeated on the season, and judging by the fact that there are no entries within five feet of her personal best, that undefeated season should stay alive. The Mississippi State signee has only improved throughout the season. If this trend continues, we could see her better her mark of 42-6 and improve upon her own state record.

Heidi Hudson continues to raise the bar

*Heidi Hudson at the 2022 Mississippi Track and Field Meet of Champions

Photo credits: Chris Webber, Editor

Arguably the best Mississippi track and field performer this season, Sumrall's Heidi Hudson is again competing in the Varsity Girls' High Jump and Long Jump.

She has relentlessly dominated the jumping scene this indoor season and is the comfortable state record holder in both events, holding personal bests of 18-8.5 in the long jump and 5-8 in the high jump. The Sumrall senior has consistently elevated her performances and recently hit her long jump PR at the LSU High School Classic.

Expect her to continue her reign of terror as she looks to cement herself as one of the South's best jumpers.

Katie Gates goes for the 60mH and TJ double

One of the best multi-event athletes in Mississippi, Katie Gates is a big contestant in the 60-meter hurdles and the triple jump.

In the hurdles, she holds an impressive season mark of 9.21 from The Galleria Games. This performance ranks her No.2 in Mississippi, only behind Hattiesburg High's Lenasia Drummond.

In the Triple Jump, Gates holds a personal best this season of 35-3.5 to place her No. 3 in Mississippi.

RANKINGS: Mississippi High School Girls 60mH List | Triple Jump List

With the talent the Mississippi College signee has shown, she has the ability to improve upon these marks and be in main contention to win her events.

Clash of the Titans: Clinton v. Pearl

Another chapter of the clash of Mississippi's top two teams will be written this weekend in Birmingham. Both teams already have close to their entire team under the Mississippi Milesplit First Team and Second Team standards and are ready to turn in more top-tier performances.

Clinton's squad is eye-catching with their raw amount of star power with athletes such as jumper Maxiumus Littleton, short sprinter Omari Hampton, and middle-distance runner Miguel Bankston.

However, Pearl makes up for the supposed "lack of star power" with depth and superior distance running. The 2022 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Champs are back with a squad paced by 2022 MHSAA 6A Cross Country champion Jaquavion Bryant with distance runners Tanner Moore, Farren Oberto, Brendan Clark, and Maxi Duran looking for dominance in the longer distances and climb up the rankings. Jumper Kingi McNair joins the fold as he continues to chase Littleton and Starkville's Sterling Scott for the distinction of the top jumper in Mississippi.


Who will beat who at the Last Chance Invite?

Tylertown Takeover

This indoor season, Tylertown High School has been a sprinting powerhouse. Currently, they hold the top squad times in the 60-meter hurdles and 60-meter dash. Senior Kendrell Robertson leads the team in the hurdles with a personal best of 8.26, the best mark in Mississippi this season.

RANKINGS: Mississippi High School Boys 60mH List

Backed by Avery Abram Jr. and Jourdan Clements, they are nothing short of dangerous over the hurdles. 

In the 60-meter dash, Lee Holmes, Jamarcus Garrett, Kendrell Robertson, and Jourdan Clements have all shown their speed this season. Clements is the leader with a season best mark of 7.13 followed by Holmes' 7.15, and Garrett's 7.29.

In the field, Tylertown senior Henry Hill, a talented high jumper, is looking to translate his outdoor success indoors. Holding a personal best mark of 6-4, he is a podium finisher at the MHSAA 3 state championships and could be a threatening prospect for his competition Saturday.

Race to Watch: Boy's 1600m

*Jaheim Bridges winning the 1600m at 2022 MHSAA 6A North State Championships 

Photo credits: Christian Leach

The deepest race of the meet by far in regards to Mississippi entries seems to be the High School Boys 1600m.

There are a total of 12 Mississippi entries with seeds under the Mississippi Milesplit Second Team Standard and the competition will be tight on Saturday.

Leading the charge for Mississippi will once again be Pearl's Jaquavion Bryant lining up against the lethal Tupelo duo of Jaheim Bridges and Taylor Brown. Bryant and Bridges both have a 4:24 1600m on their resume, while Brown has a 9:47 3200m performance to flash. Benjamin Owens, a William Carey signee from Madison Central, Mississippi College signee Christian Parks of Clinton, middle school sensation Andrew Brown, 2022 Watson Champion and Mississippi College signee Gabe McElwain, 2022 MHSAA 4A Cross Country Champion and Blue Mountain signee Lukas Dykes, Bounds Simmons of TCPS, and Tanner Moore from Pearl also project to be in a fast heat and will be looking to rip a fast one. We will see who will make it out with the No. 1 time in Mississippi, and if anyone will be able to challenge for the win.

Littleton v. McNair

Next to Triple Jump state record holder and Adidas National Champion Sterling Scott, Clinton senior Maxiumus Littleton has proven that he is one of the top jumpers in the state.

However, Pearl has an up-and-coming sophomore talent that has been challenging the top ranks of Mississippi jumping. Last season, Kingi McNair was a freshman that made the MHSAA 6A Track and Field Championships in the high jump and triple jump. At the Martin Luther King Indoor Classic, he was able to either closely match or improve his lifetime bests. If he keeps his upward trajectory, he has a chance to top the ranks. 

Hampton attempts to go under seven

*Omari Hampton at the 2022 Madison Central Season Opener

Photo credits: Drew Lewis

Clinton's Omari Hampton, the reigning MHSAA 6A Champion in the 100m and 200m, looks to be among the most talented short sprinters in the Mississippi.

However, the seven-second barrier in the 60 has eluded him this season. Depending on whether he decides to run any postseason meets or not, this could be his last chance this season to break seven seconds and secure the No.1 60-meter dash ranking in Mississippi.

The Clinton sophomore has already put together an impressive 2023 Indoor Track and Field campaign, positioning himself very well for another stellar outdoor season.

Honorable Mentions: 

Clinton's elite hurdle trio of Jenesis Williams, Kaitlyn Jones, and Corshunna Hughes will compete in the Varsity Girls' 60-meter hurdles. 

Jeremiah Barnett, the nation's fastest seventh-grader from Clinton High, will compete in the Varsity Boys 60-meter dash. 

Clinton senior Ken Andrews, the Mississippi High School Boys' leader in the Shot Put, is slated to compete in his specialty event. 

Biloxi senior Cheyanne Alston, one of the top jumpers in MHSAA 6A High School Girls, is among the top entries in the Varsity Girls Long Jump and Triple Jump.

Pearl junior Katherine Neal, the Mississippi High School Girls leader in the 1600m, will compete in the fast heat of the Varsity Girls 1600-meter run and go after the 5:30 barrier. 

Miguel Bankston, the reigning MHSAA 6A 800m Champion and Mississippi High School Boys leader in the 800m, will compete in the fast section of his specialty event and chase yet another indoor lifetime best. 

Biloxi senior Addison Yelverton, the Mississippi High School Girls leader in the 400m and top returner to the MHSAA 6A Championships in the 400m, is slated to compete in the Varsity Girls 400-meter dash. After crushing her heat at the Martin Luther King Indoor Classic, Yelverton looks ready to rip another fast one at Last Chance. 

Tupelo sophomore Brookelyn Morgan, the Mississippi High School Girls leader in the 3200m and 2 x MHSAA 6A 3200m Champion, is entered in the Varsity Girls 3200-meter run. 

Elsie Wilbanks, the sophomore from Corinth High School is competing in the Varsity Girls 1600m. Historically, she has found success in cross country coming up with a runner-up finish at the 2022 MHSAA 4A Cross Country Championships and sixth-place finish at the 2022 All-Mississippi Cross Country Championships

Written by: Chris Webber (Editor), Hudson James, Chris Bell, and Preston Speed