June 22, 2009
MERIDIAN -- Members of the Comer family, of Caledonia, caught the attention of State Games of Mississippi officials when their names kept showing up on the list of participants and medalists from various sports.
Jessica Comer, 16, claimed the gold medal in the 15- to 19-year-old division of the 5-Kilometer Run with a time of 21 minutes, 16 seconds.
Right on her heels was her sister, Anna, 18, with a time of 25:13.
In between the girls was their younger brother, Jonathan, 13, who finished fifth in the 10-14 division with a time of 24:18.7.
Youngest brother Caleb, 10, would have been in the mix as well, but he was involved in the State Games Soccer competition while his siblings were running.
At the Soccer Complex, Caleb, a member of the 10-and-under Caledonia Alliance, was involved in a game with the Northwest Rankin United. The Alliance went on to play the Bays Blazers from Bay St. Louis and the JFC Liverpool from Jackson before being eliminated from the tournament.
Parents of the children are Susan and Randy Comer.
This is the second year the Comer children have attended the State Games. Last year, they only participated in soccer, but when they heard about the 5K Run, they added a second sport to the list.
Susan said the children would have also participated in the cross country competition if it had not been for a conflict with the date of that event. A fourth event also caught her eye.
"Once we got there, we realized there was also a 5K walk, so next year Randy and I might as well sign up for that," Susan said.
Anna and Jessica run track and cross country and play in the band at Caledonia High School, where Anna also played basketball and Jessica is a cheerleader.
Anna, who graduated in May, will be play alto sax in the Mississippi State band in the fall.
The boys play soccer.
If all of this activity sounds challenging, it is especially so for the Comer children, who all suffer from asthma.
Susan Comer said they are aware of their children''s conditions and have learned to treat the asthma appropriately.
"The main thing is to keep their lungs healthy, and participating in sports definitely helps," Susan said.
The Comer family plans to return to Meridian next year for the 19th annual State Games of Mississippi. They especially enjoyed the opening ceremonies this year in downtown Meridian.
"It was wonderful," Susan said. "We loved the fireworks show and really enjoyed getting to see real U.S. Olympians."
U.S. Olympians Brittney Reese, Ralph Boston, Mildrette Netter White, and George Wilson marched with the athletes in the Parade of Athletes and administered the Athlete Oath.
"We also thought the new ''Spirit Award'' was a great idea," Susan said. "As if the kids weren''t excited enough already."
The first Spirit Awards were presented to the teams showing the most spirit in the Parade of Athletes.
The State Games of Mississippi is a statewide amateur sportsfest patterned after the Olympics for athletes of all ages and abilities.