The Class 5A North State track and field championship wasn’t settled until the last lap around the track when Jalan Catledge found his stride helping the Starkville Yellowjackets take the title.
“It felt amazing,” said Catledge who anchored a squad that turned in a time of 3:24.17 and clinched the Class 5A North title for the Jackets. “Anytime I can run the anchor leg and help us win, I’m overwhelmed with joy.”
The boys led Canton High School by just a half point and knew they must win in order to win the meet, leaving SHS head coach Chris Barnett a little anxious.
“Honestly, I was worried about Canton (because) they’ve beaten us the last two weeks," Barnett said. "They are extremely good so I think I was as nervous as the kids were. We have a good group of kids who have worked hard. The hard work is starting to pay off and I’m proud of them.”
The quartet of Kamau Bostic, Damien Grady, Jacoby Smith and Catledge turned in a time of 3:24.17 to cap the event for Starkville.
The 200-meter relay team of Terrance McCarter, Gabe Myles, Scottie Pittman, and QuVarious Robertson turned in a time of 1:29.63, good enough for a second place finish.
In the individual events, Bostic and Grady took second and third in the 1600 and the 800 meter events while Grant Woomer finished second in the pole vault. Catledge added to his huge day for the Yellowjackets as he also placed second in the long jump and triple jump with distances 19-08.00 and 44-07.00.
“We had a pretty good day,” said Barnett. “There were a couple of x-factor events that hit and a couple didn’t, but overall we did enough to come out with a win.
“(Today) will be a day of celebration and Monday we’ve got to get back out there. We have to have a blank slate and be ready to get back out there on Friday.”
Overall, 11 members of the SHS boys track and field team have qualified to the state meet where Barnett will square off against his father, Woody Barnett, the head coach of Pearl High School.
On the girls side of the ledger, head coach Caroline Woomer saw her Lady Yellowjackets finish strong with run away victory in the 4X400 meter event.
Brianna Lawerence, Aleah Watt, Taylor Roger, and Daija Williams finished with a time of 4:11.54, but they weren’t the only group having success on the track.
“The 4x400 has become a really good way to end our meets,” said Woomer. “Even if we’ve had a rough meet, they usually kick it in and win the meet or come really close. They don’t usually let us down.”
The 4X100 team of Natalia Burns, Janna Gandy-Rice, Ralesheia Gee, and Kasy Jett won their race with a time of 49.13 while Burns, Gandy-Rice, Madayshia Lofton and Aubreonna Mitchell finished second in the 4X200 meter event.
“Their handoffs were perfect,” said Woomer. “That’s what we’ve been working on the past two weeks and they were perfect.”
In the individual events, Lofton finished fourth in the 200 meters while Kate Mattox won both the 1600 and 3200 meter events. Walker Mattox also finished fourth in the 3200 meters.
The Lady Jackets qualified 12 for a trip to the 5A state championship to be held next Friday at Pearl High School.