Columbus' Oliver, Caledonia's Hackman win state titles

May 18, 2010 1:09:00 PM

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


The heat didn''t bother Danté Oliver and Jelisha Hackman. 


Forced to return Monday to compete in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A and 6A meets in sweltering conditions, Oliver and Hackman made the most of their opportunities. 


Oliver, a Columbus High School senior, won the Class 6A 400 meters with a time of 48.25, while Hackman, a junior at Caledonia High, won the Class 4A 400 with a time of 59.9. 


Hackman also took second in the triple jump (36 feet, 2 inches). 


Complete results from the Class 2A, 4A, and 6A meets weren''t available at press time. 


Oliver credited his friends with the Starkville High School track and field team for allowing him to sit under their tent so he wouldn''t be baked by the time he was scheduled to run in the 400. 


"When I came out here and started warming up I was sweating because it was really hot out here," Oliver said. "I know the sun drains the energy from you, so I was thinking the times would be a little less than what they normally are." 


Oliver took second to South Panola''s Montez Griffin with a time of 47.05 at the Class 6A North Half State meet. 


But Oliver didn''t allow the heat to affect him. He went out quickly intending to dictate the pace and remained focused. 


"I was really prepared and ready to run Saturday," Oliver said. "I knew (Monday) if I just did what I was supposed to do it would be a good race. 


"Coming out of the first 300 and into the final straightaway, I was pushing more and trying to get out there to put room between me and the rest of the people. I was expecting him (Griffin) in the final 100 to come up, but I kept pumping my arms and moving. Luckily nobody came up." 


Columbus High track and field coach Jim Hamilton said Oliver deserves everything he gets because he works hard for it. He said the 48.25 was a hand-held time because there were problems with the automatic times at the meet, which started Friday but was postponed due to bad weather. 


"It was his mind over matter," Hamilton said of Oliver''s performance in the hot and humid conditions. "I think it could have bee 110 degrees and the humidity would have been 100 percent and he would have won. He came our prepared to win." 


Hamilton said Griffin usually gives Oliver trouble at the end of races, but that wasn''t the case Monday. He said Oliver was in the lead with 50 meters to go and he won the race by three meters. 


"He did everything I asked him to do all year," Hamilton said. "As coaches, we get a chance to work with a real special kid once in a while, and I got to do that with Danté this year." 


Hackman accomplished three goals with her performance: She broke the one-minute mark in the 400, she won a state title, and she eclipsed the 36-foot mark in the triple jump. 


"In my 400, the girls in lanes seven and eight seemed like they were way far ahead of me, which made me push faster," Hackman said. "I usually slow up in the curves, but the because the outside lanes were where they were, I pushed myself and kept pushing myself." 


Hackman said she also was spurred on by someone who was yelling, "She''s right behind you" in the home stretch.  


"I was so happy," Hackman said. "It felt like I ran harder than I usually do on my curves. Today I kept going and sped up." 


Caledonia High''s Jessica Comer, who took third in the 3,200 (12:18) on Friday, was third in the 1,600 (5:30), and second in the 800 (2:21). Teammate Sarah Guess was fifth in the discus (83-8), while Caledonia High boys competitors Zach Senneff took third in the 3,200 (10:39) and Chris Warren was fourth in the 1,600 (4:52). 


"Both of them ran the best times they have ran all year," Caledonia High boys track and field coach Jason Forrester said of Senneff and Warren. "The other competitors stepped it up pretty well, but both of them gave everything they had. They knew they both ran as hard as they could, and now they want to work harder to be on the podium and to have a shot at winning their races next year." 


Pass Christian senior Cory McGee set a state record in winning the 800 (2:10.74). Her time erased the mark that had been set by Gulfport High''s Lee Ann Van Landingham in 1981 (2:10.84). 


McGee, the two-time Miss Track and Field, owns the state records in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200. She broke her record in the 1,600 (set last year) on Monday with a time of 4:50.47. 


With 17 career first-place finishes in individual races, McGee is believed to hold the national record. 


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.