Previewing the Kersh 800m Fields at '23 Woody Barnett Invite

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The 2023 Mississippi Track and Field season is about to witness one of its most anticipated events - the George Kersh and Kaelin Kersh 800m fields at the upcoming Woody Barnett Invitational. Known for producing fast times and crowning the ultimate 800m Mississippi champion, these races are set to be some of the most thrilling competitions of the season.

Last year, the women's race saw Gulfport's Mallory Streetman clinching the title, who now competes for Mississippi State. On the men's side, Heritage Academy's Sidney Stegall emerged victorious and has since signed to run for Mississippi College.

Last Year's Results 

Event 15  Girls 800 Meter Run Kaelin Kersh High School
    Name                    Year School                  Seed     Finals 
  1 Streetman, Mallory        12 Gulfport             2:20.34    2:19.06  
  2 Cartwright, Jessica       11 Hernando             2:25.12    2:22.42  
  3 Stradinger, Julia         12 Jackson Prep         2:25.07    2:25.16  
  4 Jackson, Riley            10 Hernando             2:30.46    2:26.52  
  5 Sellers, Shana            12 Pearl High S         2:31.28    2:28.31  
  6 Atkinson, Gracie          11 Jackson Prep         2:24.60    2:31.50  
  7 Vinson, Sloane            12 Madison Ridg         2:28.83    2:36.85  
Event 16  Boys 800 Meter Run Geoge Kersh High School
    Name                    Year School                  Seed     Finals 
  1 Stegall, Sid              11 Heritage             1:59.85    1:57.52  
  2 Williams, Brandon         12 Senatobia            2:00.88    1:57.61  
  3 Childress, Grayson        12 Brookhaven H         2:03.09    1:58.53  
  4 Davis, Javien             12 Pearl High S         1:59.51    1:58.96  
  5 Carman, Curt              12 Tishomingo           2:00.00    1:59.03  
  6 Owens, Benjamin           11 Madison Cent         2:01.66    1:59.75  
  7 Turner, Dominic           12 Pearl High S         1:59.77    2:00.20  
  8 Singletary, Matthew       12 Oxford High          2:01.82    2:00.32 

With returning champion Sidney Stegall looking to defend his title in the George Kersh 800m, the competition is set to be fierce. Keep an eye on Pearl's strong contingent, led by 1:54 800m runner Tanner Moore and 4:15 1600m runner JaQuavion Bryant, as they are likely to give the Mississippi College signee a run for his money. Other sleeper picks include 1:57 800m runner Tavon Davis of Raymond, as well as MSAIS superstar Kameron Willson of Centreville Academy, both of whom are undefeated this season. Lastly, we can't forget about the reigning MHSAA 6A 1600m Champion Jaheim Bridges of Tupelo. 

In the Kaelin Kersh 800m, the absence of last year's champion Mallory Streetman leaves the field wide open for a new winner. Pearl will once again have a strong contingent in this field, and will be aiming to continue their school's winning tradition in this event with the likes of Hannah Moore, Madeline Moore, and Katherine Neal. However, they can expect stiff competition from the likes of current 800m state leader Olivia Smith, indoor 800m state leader Audrey Mayatte, middle school sensation Riz McBride, among others.

Other notable entries include Raymond's Cooper Rodgers, who currently leads the state in the 200m and 400m, and is the No. 1 seed in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. However, Rodgers may be the heavy favorite in the 400m, but he will have to go through MHSAA 6A standouts Justice Moore and Omari Hampton in the short sprints if he wants to leave with three gold medals. It is also worth mentioning that the three fastest 400m runners in MHSAA 6A are also entered alongside Rodgers, led by Madison Central's Grayson Foster at 49.20. 

*Charve Gibson, Jefferson County HS

Charve Gibson will be another athlete for fans to keep their eyes peeled for, and it will hard for fans to miss her as she is competing in four total events! Entered in the 100mH, the 200m, the Long Jump, and the Triple Jump, Gibson may be in eighth-grade, but competes like a veteran. Her stiffest competition will likely come in the 100mH against Clinton's Corshunna Hughes and Kaitlyn Jones, but will likely be gunning for four event wins at the upcoming Woody Barnett Invitational

If Hughes or Jones can pull off the 100mH win, Jenesis Williams, the No. 3 ranked 300-meter hurdler in Mississippi, could potentially make it a hurdles sweep for the Lady Arrows. 

The High School Boys 1600m will offer thrilling competition, with six entries entered at 4:40 or faster led by 4:29 miler Bailey Kosko

Madison Ridgeland Academy will be putting forth a few of their stars forward in the form of Evie Ewing and Annie Toler. Ewing is entered in the High School Girls 400m dash, and is the lone entry under 60 seconds with a lifetime best of 58.39 seconds, good for No. 3 in Mississippi.

*Evie Ewing, Madison Ridgeland Academy

Meanwhile, Toler will enter the High Jump as the No. 1 seed thanks to her lifetime best of 5-5.5 in the event, also good for No. 3 in Mississippi in her specialty event. 

In the throwing events, Connor Mozee and Brayden Warner will have a rematch in the Discus. The last time these two met, Warner came out on top, but Mozee has thrown 171 feet since and enters as the No. 1 seed. Additionally, Madison Central's Julian Winters, the No. 2 ranked Shot Put thrower in Mississippi, headlines the field in his specialty event. 

All eyes will be on Mississippi Pole Vault record holder John Scott Kendricks of Oxford as he headlines the High School Boys Pole Vault and is likely to continue his winning streak in the event of 17 straight 1st-place finishes. 

Moreover, elite Clinton duo Maxiumus Littleton and Tyler Nichols will be taking a break from the High Jump, but are likely to each take home a win in the Long Jump and Triple Jump. 

As the Woody Barnett Invitational draws near, Mississippi's top runners are gearing up to give their best in pursuit of the prestigious 800m crown. Don't miss the chance to witness this exhilarating race that is sure to leave spectators on the edge of their seats.

For fans who cannot attend the event in person, MileSplit Mississippi will provide on-site coverage, including photos, race videos, and interviews with athletes and coaches. Stay tuned to their platform for all the latest updates and in-depth analysis of this thrilling showdown.