April 24, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- Cleveland Hudson is in his 30th year as Starkville High School''s boys track coach.
The Yellow Jackets rewarded Hudson for his years of service last season by winning the Class 5A state championship.
In his milestone year, the team would like nothing better than to win another title.
Starkville senior sprinter Tavaris Tate appreciates the guidance and support Hudson has provided him in his track career.
"Coach Hudson is just like another father figure," Tate said. "He keeps me and everybody in line. He knows what he''s doing and has been at it for a while. Regardless of who becomes my (college) coach, (Hudson) will always be my coach. He''s been a big part of my life."
Before the Yellow Jackets compete May 9 at the state meet in Pearl, they will participate Saturday in the Class 5A Regional meet and May 2 in the North State meet. Both events will be in Tupelo.
Hudson believes Starkville can improve on its second-place finish at the Class 5A, Division 2 meet to put it in position to capture the school''s third state title since 1978.
"We fell short in the division, but we hope to improve in the region and we expect to get better in points," Hudson said. "The points that we got (at division) were good solid points. They are points we can take all of the way to the state. The main goal is winning the state championship."
Tate is one of the nation''s best sprinters, but Hudson said he can''t lead the team by himself.
That''s where Cortez Rogers and Josh Henley come in.
Rogers competes in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 meters. He won the state in the 800 last year.
"He was a big surprise in the state last year," Hudson said. "We expect him to do well again."
Henley participates in the shot and discus.
Starkville also expects to get points out of the 4x400 relay team, which Tate anchors.
Tate likes the team''s focus and work ethic.
"We''re more dedicated than we''ve ever been," Tate said. "I''m grateful to have a team that wants to run, comes to the track, and is into track like I am. Everybody on the team is putting their all into it. Everyone is going to work hard to get every point they can get."
On the girls side, the Lady Yellow Jackets, coached by Mitchell Evans, also want to build on a second-place showing at the division meet. They will look for continued scoring from sprinters Reshequia Henderson and Asche Catledge.
Catledge won the 100 and Henderson won the 400 at the division meet.
Henderson knows another high finish, at least in the top three, will only help the team.
"I''m going to try hard to get first (at region), but I want to eventually win state," Henderson said. "I''m proud of myself because I cut my time down to a minute, although 59 (seconds) would have made me very happy."
Henderson said chemistry has helped the girls team have success.
Catledge also has watched her time drop in her races.
"I''m proud of myself," Catledge said. "I hope to continue to do that for this week and state."