Talk of the Town: Stellar Performances Across The South

Cooper Rodgers Opens Up With 48.7 400m on Flat Track

Cooper Rodgers, a 46.9 400m runner Raymond High School who has committed to compete at Mississippi State University in the Fall of '24, started off his 2024 indoor track and field circuit right where he left it in 2023, as he continued to make headlines. At the LSU High School Classic, Rodgers put down a 400m season opener of 48.76 seconds for the win.

While this time places him just 0.01 seconds behind Clinton's Howard Banks this season, it's still the sixth fastest time in the history of indoor 400m in the state of Mississippi, as well as him No. 13 nationally.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys 400m List

What's even more remarkable is that Rodgers achieved this feat at the LSU indoor track in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which features a 200-meter flat track. Considering the typical NCAA conversion rate from flat to banked tracks of 0.7-8 seconds, Rodgers' potential on a 200-meter banked track is tantalizing.

Could he pull off the seemingly unthinkable and break the indoor 400m state record of 47.06 held by Tavaris Tate of Starkville? 

Julie Segroves just 0.5 Inches Off Her Own State Record in PV

Julie Segroves of Biloxi has once again left the pole vaulting world in awe, defending her varsity girls pole vault title at the LSU High School Classic in Baton Rouge, La. with a remarkable leap of 13-1.5.

While this height may be just shy of her own overall Mississippi State record of 13-2, which she set at the 2022 Texas Elite Pole Vault Expo Explosion in Belton, Tex., it's still an astounding feat nonetheless. Notably, this jump stands a foot and a half higher than her season opener win at the Holiday Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., showcasing her impressive progression just this season.

To put it into perspective, this vault is Segroves is making waves on a national level, currently ranked No. 5 in the nation in her specialty event. With her continued excellence, it's safe to say that an indoor state record is just around the corner for this Biloxi Junior.

Jaquavion Bryant Opens Up Season With 4:25 1600m

Jaquavion Bryant of Pearl High School has officially debuted his indoor track season, and he is already starting in stride.

At the Ice Breaker Invitational, he raced the 1600m and came through with a blazing 4:25 for a fourth place overall finish. He now leads the state in the 1600m by over 10 seconds.

Considering this was Bryant's first race of the year, we could be in for a historic indoor and outdoor season for the 1600m race.

Last year, Bryant opened his season on the same day and ran a 4:34 and quickly cut that down to a 4:22 by the end of indoor. If Bryant can track a similar path to what he did last year, he would be well on pace to break the state record for the indoor 1600m, owned by Christian Balcer with a 4:17.

RANKINGS: Mississippi HS Boys All-Time 1600m List

In the 2023 season, we saw Bryant struggle with a late-season injury that crippled his times and placement in the latter half of the season. An injury-free 2024 season would set the stage for Bryant to finally earn his first track and field state title. All eyes will be on this distance phenom as he progresses throughout the season and works towards etching his name in the Mississippi running record books.

Notably, other Pirates that ran well in the distance events included MHSAA 6A 800m and 1600m Champion Tanner Moore in the 800m, Mississippi College distance signee Katherine Neal in the 3200m, and future star Andrew Tarter in the 3200m

Olivia Smith Leads The Way in 400m and 800m

Olivia Smith, the reigning MAIS 6A 800m and 1600m champion from Jackson Preparatory School, took control of the 400m and 800m at the Ice Breaker Invitational. She was the fastest Mississippi runner in both events on the weekend and is already proving her strength in the 2024 season.

ARTICLE: Combined Results, HS Girls: 2024 LSU & Ice Breaker

The Southern Mississippi commit showed off her speed over the weekend with an impressive 400m of 1:01 for the fourth fastest time in the state this year. Whether it's the 400m, 1600m, or even the 3200m, Smith has the versatility to tackle each of them and put up impressive results.

In her 800m race, she crossed the tape with a time of 2:25 and defended her spot as the fastest 800m runner in the state. With an outdoor PR of 2:18 at the 2023 RunningLane Track Championships, Smith is already closing in on her times from last year. Can she continue this momentum and snatch another MAIS title in the 800m?

Considering her talent in the 400m, 800m, and 1600m, could we potentially see her attempt the triple crown at the MAIS Championships this year? 

Written by: Chris Webber(Editor) and Bennett Ferguson