May 14, 2013 4:04:21 AM
STARKVILLE -- For many, a pair of state championships would signal the end of a promising high school career.
For Starkville High School eighth grader Kate Mattox, it is the opposite. She feels like she is just getting started.
At the Mississippi High School Activities Association's Class 5A state track and field championships, Mattox won a state championship in both the 3200m and 1600m runs.
For this success, she is this week's Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
"Saturday was great and a lot of fun," Kate Mattox said. "I always enjoy running with (sister) Walker and running for my school. We have always wanted to go 1-2 in a race and now we have done that."
Kate Mattox won the 3200m run with a time of 11 minutes, 13.38 seconds. Walker, who is in tenth grade, followed closely at 12:23.62. In the 1600m run, the younger Mattox won with a time of 5:15. Also for the Yellow Jackets, Damian Grady won two championships in the 1600m (4:40.82) and 800m (2:00.17).
For Kate Mattox, Saturday's performance capped off a great high school season.
"It feels great that God has given me this athletic ability and I am doing my best to use it," Kate Mattox said. "We make so many friends running and we enjoy that."
The sister bond helps through the good times and the bad times.
"We are both very competitive," Kate Mattox said. "At practices, we are always trying to beat each other. It is always a friendly competition. We are sisters and we never get mad at each other. It is great to push one another and motivate one another. We hold each other accountable when we have things to do."
A love for running began for Kate Mattox at an early age.
"When I was little, like in first grade, I would always go jogging with my dad," Kate Mattox said. "Then in fourth grade, I went to Starkville Academy and they had a running program. I have always been very competitive and I never want to lose. I would always try to beat the boys, because I didn't want to lose to the boys. It was very competitive and it got me interested in doing this at a young age."
Starkville coach Caroline Woomer is proud of the strides made by Kate Mattox this season.
"She is a competitive and she is a winner," Woomer said. "Both of the sisters put in a tremendous amount of time to get better at what they are doing. Their situation is unique in that they have one another to always support and help push each other."
Both the Jackets and Lady Jackets placed fifth as a team at the championship.
"This track team is a lot like family," Kate Mattox said. "I don't think I would really enjoy track if it wasn't for the people on my team. They make it that much better. We are there to push each other and to help each other out. When we feel down or out about running or anything else, we have one another."
Mattox recorded a personal-best time in the 1600m at the state finals. Ironically, her personal-best time of 10:56 in the 3200m took place one week earlier at the North State championship.
"I really appreciate my coaches for helping with the workouts and helping put a plan in place to make these things happen," Kate Mattox said. "You always want a better time, so I am real excited about how the season wrapped up like this."
Not only does Kate Mattox credit her coaches for helping making all of this possible, her biggest love and support starts at home. Kim and Sonny Mattox are the proud parents and helped instill the values needed to be successful in athletics and in life. Ironically, the Mattox success story does not end here. Caroline Mattox will be a seventh grader this fall and is already in the process of getting ready for the cross country season, where she will join her two older sisters.
"Our parents really support each of us in ever way possible," Kate Mattox said. "Their love and guidance has made all of this possible. I feel really blessed. Before each race, I pray to God and thank him for this opportunity."
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter