May 20, 2010 10:22:00 AM
Any drama Wednesday morning ended the moment Danté Oliver entered the Columbus High School library.
The Falcons'' track and field standout was supposed to have entertained last-minute recruiting inquiries Tuesday night from Mississippi State.
But when those plans didn''t materialize it, Oliver''s college decision became a foregone conclusion.
His arrival at the library wearing a University of Mississippi jacket sealed the deal.
Minutes later, Oliver finalized his plans when he signed a national letter of intent to compete in track and field for the Rebels.
"I am happy with where I am going," Oliver said. "It has been a long decision-making process. I talked with my parents and when we broke it down it seemed like the place to go."
Oliver, who has a 4.1 weighted grade-point average, will attend Ole Miss on an academic/athletic scholarship. He plans to study pharmacy.
Oliver''s performance this season has increased the chances he will receive a bigger athletic scholarship, too. On Monday, Oliver overcame hot and humid conditions in Pearl to win the 400 meters in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A meet. His time of 48.5 was a little off his time of 47.05 that earned him a second-place finish at the Class 6A North Half State meet.
The weather Monday played a part in slower times all around at the Class 2A/4A/6A meet. The meets started Saturday but rainy weather forced the event to be postponed until Monday.
Columbus High track and field coach Jim Hamilton praised Oliver for maturing into a top competitor this season. He feels the improvement Oliver made in cutting three seconds off his time from the beginning of the season could continue in college, when he gets a chance to work in the weight room, receive more coaching, and compete against some of the nation''s best athletes.
"He started to mature late," Hamilton said. "He hasn''t gained a great dal of weight, but the weight he did gain was muscle mass.
"Ole Miss is getting a great guy. They''re not going to have to worry about him. He is going to be doing one of three things. He is going to be studying, training, or he is going to be at a meet. He is a great kid."
Hamilton said Ole Miss showed the most interest and stayed focused on Oliver throughout the recruiting process, which is why he wasn''t surprised Oliver decided to become a Rebel.
"He got stronger," Hamilton said. "He really worked hard in the weight room and really worked hard on the components of running the race and broke it down to the things that generally bring down times. At the rate he dropped, it is almost phenomenal. Very few kids I have seen drop three seconds in one season."
Oliver visited Ole Miss earlier this month and was impressed with the athletic facilities. He also was equally impressed with the school''s academic programs and the support it provides student-athletes.
On the track, Oliver hopes to continue his maturation as a runner. He said he is anxious to get into a program that will offer him continuity with coaches and an opportunity to get stronger in a weight program and to become a better athlete thanks to a nutrition program.
He isn''t sure how fast he will become, but he is eager to see how far he can go.
"At the beginning of the year, I wasn''t even sure if I was going to run track this year, so I am glad I did," Oliver said. "I think I can do better. When I get up there I am going to see what the Lord has in store for me. If it goes that way, I will be happy."
Track and Field
n Noxubee County''s Little wins shot put: Jasmine Little''s throw of 36 feet, 5 1/2 inches Monday helped her win the Class 4A shot put title.
In other girls performances at the meet, the Amory High 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams were fourth and fifth, respectively, Amory High''s Courtney Baker was sixth in the 300 hurdles and Alexandera Thompson was seventh in the 200, and Noxubee County''s Emmaneisha Brown was eighth in the 800.
In boys efforts at the Class 4A meet, Noxubee County''s Jarius King was third in the 800 (2:06.4), Brandon Sanders and Anthony Clark were third and fourth in the 300 hurdles, Clark was seventh in the 110 hurdles, Rodriguez Brown was sixth in the 100, the 4x400 relay team was third (3:32.05), and Amory High''s Duane Gilleylen was fifth in the discus (125-5).
In the boys Class 2A meet, West Lowndes'' Donald Henley was seventh in the 110 hurdles (16.8), the 4x100 relay team was seventh, and Korey Wilson was seventh in the shot put (39-2 1/2).
In the Class 6A meet, Starkville High''s Julian Lewis was seventh in the 100 (11.16) and Craig Armstead was sixth in the shot put (46-1 1/2), while Columbus High''s Sammy Doughty was fifth in the high jump (6-4).
In the girls 6A meet, Starkville High''s Shay Bonner was second in the 100 hurdles (15.54) and third in the 300 hurdles and the 4x200 relay was third (1:45.07) and the 4x400 relay team was seventh.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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