May 10, 2014 11:37:21 PM
Mercedes Mattix has passed possibly the biggest remaining hurdle in her high school career.
For some reason, the New Hope High School senior has had difficulty in her career at North State meets. The latest one, which was Saturday in Oxford, was no different. You only have to ask Mattix about her times and a dissatisfied look covers her face.
"I don't think I have ever had a good North State," Mattix said. "I am always having to fight to get there."
Still, the harsh reality of those times reveals Mattix narrowly finished second to Lake Cormorant's Brianna Smith in the 100 and 200 meters and won the 400 (56.41 seconds).
But Mattix wants to do even better, which is why she plans to go out with a bang Monday at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state meet at Pearl High. The Class 1A and Class 3A meets also will be Monday.
For Mattix, who has signed a scholarship to compete in track and field at Ole Miss later this year, the state meet will be her final chance to wear the Lady Trojans' black and gold. Earlier this year, Mattix played key roles in helping the school's girls basketball team reach the Class 5A state semifinals and the school's volleyball team win a district title and earn its first playoff victory. She hopes she will be successful Monday in helping to deliver more impressive results.
"I try not to let what I do the week before affect what I do the following meet," Mattix said. "I worked on the stuff -- running the curves and coming out of the block -- I need to work on this week. I have good finishing speed, but the start isn't as good."
Mattix was second in the 100 (12.09) and in the 200 (24.88) to Smith (12.01, 24.39). She said she didn't do well in either race, and called the 200 "horrible." After finishing second in the 100, Mattix won the 400, edging Canton's Aireanna Taylor (59.91) before capping her day in the 200. She said she ran an "OK" time in the 400, but she felt her first 100 meters of the 200 was a struggle and she had to find a kick to place in the top four.
At the Class 5A, Region 1 meet, Mattix took second in the 100 (11.74) and 200 (24.01) to Smith (11.67, 24.48). She won the 400 (56.90).
On Monday, she hopes to crack 23 seconds in the 200, and knows a fast start will be key to realizing that goal. Mattix believes the state meet will serve as motivation for her to eclipse her times from the North State meet. She thinks she will have extra motivation Monday considering she didn't like her times at Oxford High in her next-to-last meet.
"It is bittersweet," Mattix said. "I have done something better each time I have gotten to the state meet. My goal is to win every race I run in.
"I think I will do well. If this is your last time doing something, you want to do the best you can, especially since you can't get it back."
Also in Class 5A, West Point's Chelsea Landon (third in the 100 hurdles, 16.92 at North State), Alexis Gates (fourth, long jump, 15 feet, 7 1/4 inches), Shakandis Spraggins (fourth, shot put, 31-9 3/4), and Nick Melton (second, triple jump, 43-10 1/4) will join Mattix.
In Class 1A, West Lowndes High's Zabasjia Price (second, high jump, 4-6; third, 100 hurdles, 18.68), Joshua King (third, 200, 23.32; third, 400, 53.59), Kenny White (third, 800, 2 minutes, 11.13 seconds), the boys 4x400 relay team (fourth, 3:51.58), and Jeremy McGee (fourth, long jump, 20-1 1/2; third, high jump, 5-10) will compete.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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