Monday Morning Recap: Pearl Distance shows out in Homewood

Talk of the town

In our "Talk of the Town" section, we shine a spotlight on the Mississippi performances that have captured the attention and admiration of spectators, coaches, and fellow athletes alike.

We dive into the records shattered, milestones achieved, and the awe-inspiring feats that have left the state buzzing with excitement.

As we analyze the accomplishments of these exceptional athletes, we also look ahead, contemplating the potential trajectories of their budding careers and the impact they might have on the future of Mississippi track and field.

Pearl Distance, Olivia Smith makes their mark in Homewood

*At the 2023 Pearl Track & Field Opener, Bryant ran 9:31 in the 3200m

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Performance #1: In the High School Boys 1600-meter run, Pearl's Jaquavion Bryant, the 2022 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Champion, ran 4:22.35 to beat some of Alabama's top talent.

For the Record: This is a lifetime best for Bryant outdoors and is just 0.14 seconds behind his indoor personal best. This is Bryant's sixth win of the season, and now ranks him as the state's fastest sophomore ever in the distance.

RANKINGS: Mississippi Sophomore Boys 1600m All-time List

The Scoop: Bryant is quickly pushing himself into the conversation for the state's top distance runner. By winning this past weekend's race by almost half of a second, it is becoming clear that Bryant races for the win. Fast times are just coming with that.

There are still runners in the state, particularly in north Mississippi, that Bryant has yet to compete against on the track. With Bryant's racing tactics, It will be primetime track and field once they finally face off, whether that be at the Woody Barnett Track and Field Invitational or in the postseason.

*Olivia Smith won the 1600m at the Pearl Track & Field Opener

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Performance #2: Pearl's Katherine Neal and Jackson Prep's Olivia Smith both ran the 800m-1600m double at the Homewood Invitational, with Smith running 2:23 and 5:47, while Neal ran 2:26 and 5:23 respectively. 

For the Record: Katherine Neal recorded lifetime bests in both the 800m and the 1600m, while Olivia Smith, the reigning MSAIS 6A 1600m Champion, earned a lifetime best in the 800m. Smith vaults up to the very top of the leaderboard in the girls 800m, becoming the new state leader in the event. Meanwhile, Neal rose to Mississippi No. 3 in both events.

The Scoop: At this point in the season, Katherine Neal and Olivia Smith are very acquainted with one another, as this is already the third meet this season in which these two have raced together. While both athletes have the inner lane within their own league competition, they are also major contenders for the top spot in the state for both the 800m and the 1600m.

These two will have a short break from competing against each other as Smith will compete in MSAIS meets, but their paths will inevitably cross again at the Woody Barnett Track and Field Invitational. However, it is likely that they will have one final showdown in one of the biggest races of the year, the Kaelin Kersh 800, a race that will feature the best female 800m runners in the state, including Neal and Smith. They will potentially face the likes of Hernando's Kaitlyn Burge, Tupelo's Sophie Santucci, Pearl's Hannah Moore and Madeline Moore, among others.

All in all, this matchup looks to be a race for the ages.

*Tanner Moore at the Pearl Track & Field Opener

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Performance #3: Pearl's Tanner Moore ran 1:56.4 at the Homewood Invitational on Saturday, finishing 2nd to Henry Strand from Vestavia Hills.

For the Record: This was a four second lifetime best for the Pearl Junior, and now leads the state in the event. Additionally, Moore's performance is the fourth-fastest 800m time in Mississippi over the last four years, ahead of those of current collegiate runners such as Curt Carman, Robert Hooper, and Chase Rose

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys 800m List

The Scoop: Tanner Moore has had a breakout season in the 800m, as he not only broke two minutes, he absolutely destroyed it. In running 1:56, he has put the whole state on notice, especially the likes of Clinton's Miguel Bankston and Heritage's Sidney Stegall.

Moore, a two-time MHSAA 6A qualifier in the 1600m, is emerging as a contender in the MHSAA 6A 800m, which looks to be a two man race. Bankston has been the unquestioned best 800m runner in MHSAA 6A for a while now, and has been a consistent point-getter for Clinton in both the 800m and 4x800m. While he has a state title to defend, Moore definitely presents a potential threat to the recent William Carey signee.

The next meeting between Moore, Bankston, and and Sidney Stegall will be at the George Kersh 800m in Pearl at the Woody Barnett Invitational.

This race was one of the craziest races of the year last year and it looks to be the same this year, and we will see who will be the unquestioned best middle distance runner in the state. 

Biloxi Pole Vault Trio May Be the Best Mississippi Has Seen

*Julie Segroves, Biloxi High School

Photo credits: Jim Segroves

Performance: In the High School Girls Pole Vault, Biloxi's Pole Vault Squad went 1-2 at the West Harrison Invitational, then went 1-2-3 at the Gaston Hewes Relays just two days later.

For the Record: Biloxi's performance at the Gaston Hewes Relays marks the third time this season that they have finished a 1-2-3 sweep in the pole vault. Julie Segroves, Kate Kuykendall, and Addison Deeks are ranked No. 1, No. 3, and No. 4 in the state, respectively. 

The Scoop: With three pole vault sweeps this season for Biloxi, it begs the question: can Biloxi sweep the MHSAA 6A podium? This task is very daunting, especially considering last year's reigning champ: Katelyn Hulsey of Northwest Rankin.

After an extremely close pole vault final at last year's MHSAA 6A Track and Field Championships, Biloxi is seeming to confirm a sequel to last year's excitement. With the flood of competition and high stakes, the MHSAA 6A Girls Pole Vault will be one of the premier events.

Jeb Hamilton Becomes Home School State Record Holder

*Jeb Hamilton at the 2023 Forerunner Open

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Performance: In the High School Boys 1600-meter run, Tupelo Spartans' Jeb Hamilton, the 3x Mid-South Homeschool Champion across track and cross country, ran 4:39 (unofficially) at the Forerunner Open.

For the Record: This race marks a new 1600m Homeschool state record for Mississippi as Hamilton takes down former Tupelo Spartan Braden Hardy's record of 4:42.54.

The Scoop: Jeb Hamilton has officially claimed the new homeschool state record with a lifetime best of 4:39. This is impressive, but it would not be surprising to see Hamilton better that record before the season is over.

In that race, Henry Richardson of the Hattiesburg Forerunners was just seconds behind. This could gear up the Mid-South Homeschool Championships 1600m event to have the state record on the line.

Lastly, with this weekend's success of Hamilton and Tupelo's Andrew Brown, the Trakboyz Elite (a high school training group located in north Mississippi) is proving itself to be the top club in the state. 

Middle School sensation Charve Gibson wins three events at West Harrison

Performance: At the West Harrison Invitational, Jefferson County's Charve Gibson ran a 46.3 in the 300mH and jumped 17-08 and 36-11 in the long and triple jump, winning all three events.

For the record: All three marks for Gibson were personal bests for her, and also put her as the top 8th grader nationwide for each of the three events.

The scoop: Charve Gibson is a middle schooler who is winning multiple high school events with relative ease. After coming off of a relatively successful Nike Indoor Nationals, Gibson is off to the races for the outdoor season. By winning all of her races at the level she is, she is rivaling the likes of Lenasia Drummond and Heidi Hudson right now as an 8th grader.

The perennial best hurdler/jumpers in Mississippi are being rivaled by an 8th grader. Not only has Gibson proven that she can compete with the best, she is comfortably in first place in all of her events in MHSAA 3A. 

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