Monday Morning Recap: Cooper Rodgers makes his mark

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The Mississippi High School Track and Field scene has been heating up with exceptional performances and breathtaking feats, and this week's action did not disappoint. From the sprints to the field events, the athletes gave it their all, with one standout performer, in particular, taking the spotlight.

Raymond High School's Cooper Rodgers has been steadily establishing himself as the top sprinter in Mississippi and potentially the most versatile athlete in the state. The reigning MHSAA 4A 400m Champion has been on a roll this season, leaving competitors in the dust with his incredible speed.

At the Holiday Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama, Rodgers kicked off his season with a remarkable 49.09 indoor 400m dash, setting the top 400m time in the state during the indoor season.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys Indoor 400m List

He then continued his streak at the St. Andrew's Invitational, where he pulled off a triple win, capping it off with an outstanding 48.57 400m dash.

However, it was at the McComb Invitational that Rodgers truly made his mark. He blazed through the 400m dash in a stunning 47.61 seconds, earning a Mississippi No. 1 and a United States No. 12. This time is nothing short of extraordinary, and it showcases Rodgers' exceptional talent and hard work.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys 400m List

But that wasn't all for Rodgers. In addition to his incredible 400m dash, he also clocked a blazing-fast 21.62 in the 200m dash, earning him the No. 2 spot in Mississippi. And to top it off, he ran a Mississippi No. 8 100m time of 10.88.

Overall, Rodgers secured three lifetime bests through three events, a remarkable achievement that speaks to his potential as an athlete.

With these impressive performances, Rodgers has firmly established himself as the one to watch in the sprinting events in Mississippi. His incredible speed and versatility make him a force to be reckoned with, and he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

As the high school track and field season continues, it will be exciting to see what Rodgers and other talented athletes have in store for us.

However, Rodgers wasn't the only one making waves on the Mississippi sprints scene. 

*Ridgeland's Valencia Watson winning the HS Girls 100m dash at the Carey HS Challenge

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At the Carey High School Challenge, Watson continued her reign of dominance, winning both the 100m and 200m in blazing-fast times. She secured the first sub-12 100m time of the season, clocking in at 11.99 seconds for the win over Clinton MHSAA 6A standouts Tacherria Lawson, who is the No. 2 ranked 100m runner in Mississippi, and Zharia Bonner, a William Carey commit.

With this performance, Watson lowered her Mississippi No. 1 in the 100m and tied her Mississippi No. 1 200m performance, winning that event as well.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Girls 100m List

Meanwhile, in the long sprints, Gulfport's Lania McDonald put on a stellar performance at the same meet, winning the High School Girls 400m dash in a time of 58.12 seconds, securing her third Mississippi No. 1 and lifetime best in a row in the event. North Pike's Mahria Miller, the reigning MHSAA 4A 400m Champion, took runner-up in that race.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Girls 400m List

Other notable performances include Taylor Stratton of Pearl winning the 100m and 200m at the Rankin County Championships, as well as Mississippi State commit Kennedy Stringfellow winning the 100m at the same meet, continuing his undefeated streak.

Meanwhile, La'Javeon Griffin of Canton High started his 2023 Outdoor Track and Field season with two wins at the Columbia Wildcat Invitational, while Carlando Crump of Senatobia made it six straight wins in the 100m and 200m dashes, securing a lifetime best of 10.87 seconds in the 100m dash and setting himself up as a potential gold medalist at the 2023 MHSAA 4A Track and Field Championships.

Lastly, Shannon High's Alexis Mosley put down an impressive 8th-grade time of 12.57 seconds to win the High School Girls 100m dash at the NMMC Relays, and is now ranked No. 9 in the country for 8th-graders in that event. 

RANKINGS: United States 8th-grade Girls 100m List

With these exceptional performances, the Mississippi High School Track and Field scene is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and competitive in recent years. The athletes are pushing themselves to new heights, and it will be thrilling to see how they continue to perform as the season progresses.

*Jamari Page winning the 2022 MHSAA 5A 110mH title

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In the hurdles, there were some very familiar names dominating those events, such as Hattiesburg's Lenasia Drummond and Javarius Molden, Ridgeland's Jamari Page, Senatobia's JaBrysten Abram, and Tylertown's Kendrell Robertson.

At the Carey High School Challenge, Page and Molden gave a preview of what's to come in the 2023 MHSAA 5A Track and Field Championships, with Page coming out on top in the 110mH with a time of 14.69, while Molden secured the win in the 300mH with a time of 41.05. Drummond, an eight-time MHSAA 5A Champion, remained undefeated in the 100mH, winning the same meet in a new Mississippi No. 1 performance of 14.56 seconds.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Girls 100mH List

Approximately 30 miles of west of Hattiesburg at the Columbia Wildcat Invitational, Kendrell Robertson of Tylertown put on a stunning show, securing a lifetime best of 14.48 seconds in the 110mH, now ranked No. 2 in Mississippi and No. 48 in the nation in the event. Robertson also won the 300mH with a time of 40.09 seconds, showcasing his impressive skills in both events.

Meanwhile, up North at the NMMC Relays hosted by Tupelo High School, JaBrysten Abram of Senatobia continued his string of impressive and consistent performances, securing his fifth and sixth wins of the season in the 110mH and 300mH with times of 15.13 and 38.96 seconds, respectively.

Lastly, we had to save a paragraph for Brookhaven's Chrisiyona Quarles, who is making a name for herself to give Drummond a run for her money at the 2023 MHSAA 5A Track and Field Championships. Quarles earned two lifetime bests at the Carey High School Challenge; 25.63 in the 200m dash, as well as a 15.23 110m hurdles. Not only that, but the Brookhaven junior also posted a win in the 300m hurdles of 45.99 seconds, just 0.2 seconds off her lifetime best she posted one week prior at the Brookhaven Speed Trials

It is clear that Quarles is improving every time she touches the track, and this progression could turn into some downright dangerous performances in the Spring for Brookhaven's newest hurdle star.

With these incredible performances, the hurdles discipline in Mississippi High School Track and Field continues to be one of the most exciting and competitive events. The athletes are pushing themselves to new heights, and it will be thrilling to see how they continue to perform as the season progresses.

*The start of the HS Boys 3200m at the Oxford Relays

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The Mississippi distance events continued to captivate fans across the state, with Heritage Academy's Sidney Stegall and Hernando's Kaitlyn Burge leading the way. 

At the NMMC RelaysMississippi had its first athlete break the 4:20 barrier in the 1600m with Sidney Stegall's 4:19.3 at the NMMC Relays. Stegall beat a very talented field of athletes that included North Mississippi heavy hitters like Jaheim Bridges, Gabe McElwainBailey Kosko, Lukas Dykes and Brown brothers, winning the race by almost 9 seconds. After a tactical start in the opening lap, the Heritage Academy senior simply took the lead and never looked back. 

Stegall, a Mississippi College distance signee, claimed the Mississippi No. 1 spot in the 1600m, and still holds the no 1 mark for the 800m from his performance at the Oxford Relays one week prior. 

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys 1600m List

Mooreville's Dykes took runner-up in a lifetime best of 4:28.0, while Oxford's Bailey Kosko secured the bronze in 4:29.7. 

Stegall wasn't the only Mississippi prep to break through barriers, as Kaitlyn Burge of Hernando broke the 5:20 barrier at the same meet, stopping the clock in the High School Girls 1600m in 5:19.1 on a seemingly solo effort, winning by over 20 seconds. 

This was Burge's third win in a row in this event, remaining undefeated in a tough strength-of-schedule for the Hernando junior. 

Another Mississippi distance athlete to make a huge breakthrough was Bennett Ferguson of Oak Grove High School. Ferguson ran 9:39.8 and demolished his previous best in the 3200m by 16 seconds to earn him his first time under 9:40, winning a very close race with Madison Central's Colin Brannon, who also secured a lifetime best in 9:41.3. 

WATCH: Carey HS Challenge HS Boys 3200m

Madison Central's Benjamin Owens showed up and showed out at his future training facility at the Carey High School Challenge, pulling off the 800m/1600m double in impressive times of 2:02.1 and 4:26.0, displaying his lethal kick over a field full of talent that included Ferguson, Brannon, and Oak Grove's Gavin Wheat

WATCH: Carey HS Challenge HS Boys 1600m

Ferguson, Brannon, Owens, Wheat, and many more add to the depth of MHSAA 6A, which in turn will likely provide Mississippi distance fans with some very exciting racing come Championship season. 

Some other notable performances include Raymond's Tavon Davis at the McComb Invitational, Pearl's Hannah Moore (Pearland JaQuavion Bryant at the Rankin County Invitational, and Tupelo's Brookelyn Morgan at the NMMC Relays. 

Tavon Davis continued his winning streak in both the 800m and 1600m at the McComb Invitational. Davis took the 800m by seven seconds, and the 1600m by 22 seconds. Davis's 2:01.9 was the fastest 800m from any Mississippi High School boy this past weekend. 

Hannah Moore lit up the Rankin County Championships in the High School Girls 800m. The junior not only secured the win but ran a huge season-best of 2:26.1. Moore barely missed out on the Mississippi No. 1 mark in the event by a mere 0.01 seconds, but she won the weekend and set herself up for a strong rest of the season.

Another strong distance runner keeping his win streak alive was Jaquavion Bryant.

Bryant, the reigning MHSAA 6A Cross Country Champion, decided to step down from the long-distance events and show off his range, focusing more on the middle-distance races at the Rankin County Championships where he won both the 400m and 800m races with 51.98 and a 2:03.9, respectively.

No other distance runner in the state ran that fast of a 400m time and Bryant backed it up with a 9:31.5 earlier in the season at the Pearl Track & Field Opener.

Brookelyn Morgan once again ran the fastest 3200m race of the past weekend.

The sophomore sensation from Tupelo cruised to a comfortable victory, added another win to her 3200m undefeated streak, and came in nearly 30 seconds before the next competitor. 

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Girls 3200m List

*Julie Segroves at the 2023 Jim Tate Relays 

Photo credit: Jim Segroves

The field events in Mississippi High School Track and Field have also been witness to some incredible performances, with standout athletes setting new records and dominating their events. In the High School Boys Pole Vault, Oxford's John Scott Kendricks, who recently broke the Mississippi High School Boys Pole Vault state record, continued his impressive run at the NMMC Relays, jumping 16-4.75 and still one of his top 10 performances in his remarkable career. The Arkansas signee and reigning MHSAA 6A Pole Vault Champion and Adidas Outdoor Nationals Champion, is currently sitting atop the national rankings in the High School Boys Pole Vault rankings.

RANKINGS: United States HS Boys PV List

Meanwhile, Biloxi's Julie Segroves, who also holds an outdoor Pole Vault state record, jumped 13-0 to win the Jim Tate Relays held out-of-state in Mobile, Alabama. Segroves also secured a lifetime best of 13.22 in the 100-meter dash, showcasing her incredible speed down the runway.

Another notable performance in the Pole Vault came from Northwest Rankin's Katelyn Hulsey, the reigning MHSAA 6A Pole Vault Champion, who won the Rankin County Championships with an impressive jump of 11-6, continuing her undefeated streak on the season.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Girls PV List

With these remarkable performances, the pole vault event in Mississippi High School Track and Field continues to be one of the most exciting and competitive events, with athletes pushing themselves to new heights and setting new records. It will be thrilling to see how these talented athletes continue to perform as the season progresses.

*Cheyanne Alston at the 2023 Southern Miss HS Invitational

Photo credits: Jim Segroves

Segroves wasn't the only Biloxi Lady Indian to come away with a win at the Jim Tate Relays. As a matter of fact, Cheyanne Alston came away two wins, which are her ninth and tenth wins of the season, winning both the Long Jump and Triple Jump and hit the MileSplit Mississippi 1st-Team Standard in both events. 

In the Triple Jump, Alston jumped a season's best of 39-3.5, a new Mississippi No. 1 and inching closer to the 40-feet barrier in the event. 

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Girls Triple Jump List

Clinton jumps specialist Maxiumus Littleton also had himself a day at the Carey High School Challenge, leaping to three seasons best and Mississippi No. 1 of 6-8 in the High Jump. 

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys High Jump

Another fun fact, this mark is now tied with fellow Arrow Tyler Nichols, which does nothing but add to the depth of the Clinton High School Track and Field program. 

The William Carey commit also added his second and third wins this season, and has only placed outside of the top two once out of seven competitions.

We also can't forget the aforementioned Kennedy Stringfellow, who also continued his undefeated streak in not only the sprints, but the jumps as well. The Brandon senior leaped to a state-leading mark of 24-0 in the High School Boys Long Jump, taking the Rankin County title in the process. 

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys LJ List

With that performance, Stringfellow is not only ranked No. 1 in Mississippi, but also No. 7 in the United States. 

RANKINGS: United States HS Boys LJ List

*Meagan Womack at the Rumble in the Jungle

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Clinton's Meagan Womack claimed another win to her undefeated streak in the Discus, winning the weekend with a mark of 138-2 at the Carey High School Challenge

The MHSAA 6A Discus runner-up seems unstoppable this season in both the Discus and the Shot Put and undoubtedly can make some noise in Pearl at the 2023 MHSAA 6A Track and Field Championships.

Results: 2022 MHSAA State Championships 2A/4A/6A

Aryn Eady of D'Iberville High School pulled yet another impressive double header this past week with two meets on back-to-back days. Eady threw at the Olan Welch Invitational on Thursday and the Carey High School Challenge on Friday.

Perhaps even more impressive was the fact was that the difference between both of her events was very minimal. 

Brodie Ezell from Brookhaven High School crushed both of his previous lifetime bests in both the Discus and Shot Put and had the best marks in both throws events this past weekend.

He kept his win streak alive for another week in both of those events, as well as claiming the Mississippi No. 1 mark in the Discus with a 167-6 and Mississippi No. 2 mark in the shot put with a 49-7.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys Discus List

As an added bonus, this weekend was also Ezell's first time breaking forty-nine feet in the shot put and his second time ever breaking 160 feet.

All in all, the 2023 Mississippi High School Track and Field season has been nothing short of exceptional. The athletes have been pushing themselves to new heights, breaking records and putting on outstanding performances. From the sprints to the hurdles to the field events, Mississippi has produced some of the most talented and versatile athletes in the nation. With the state championships just around the corner, it will be exciting to see how these athletes continue to perform and who will emerge as the champions. One thing is for certain - Mississippi High School Track and Field is at an all-time high, and the future looks bright for the sport in the state.