STARKVILLE -- Greg Byrne paused last week to reflect on his first year as Mississippi State Athletic Director and he pointed to one specific thing that impressed him most. Since taking over the day-to-day operations of the Mississippi State athletic department on July 11, 2008, Byrne said it has been the people he works with who have made the transition a positive one. Byrne knew it would be difficult to replace a man like Larry Templeton, but said his approach and ideas have been well received.
MACON — M.C. Miller’s cupboard at Noxubee County High School has plenty left in stock. The veteran football coach will have to find a way to replace 12 starters (five on offense, seven on defense) from last season’s Class 4A state championship team. And while the losses of All-State wide receiver Patrick Patterson, wide receiver Teddy Young, and quarterback Termarcus Conner will be some of the toughest to fill, don’t think for a minute that the Tigers won’t throw the ball a lot in 2009.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy golfer Korakot Simsiriwong has returned to her native Thailand for rest and relaxation before schools starts again in August. She took her golf clubs with her. Simsiriwong wants to keep her game sharp so she can have more success on the course when she returns to the United States. “My dad (Pramoth) got me started playing golf and I love it,” Simsiriwong said. “I definitely want to keep playing.”
STARKVILLE — Starkville sprinter Tavaris Tate is used to living in the fast lane. On the track, it takes Tate seconds to run the 400 meters or his leg of the 4x400 relay. Off the track, Tate’s preparation and travel schedule keeps him on the go. Since helping Starkville High School to its second consecutive state championship, Tate has participated in the Atlanta-DeKalb International Prep Classic in Atlanta, Ga., and the Sports Authority Great Southwest Classic at Albuquerque, N.M.
STARKVILLE –– Ron Polk gave Grant Hogue an opportunity to play baseball at Mississippi State. Hogue built on that chance this season for first-year coach John Cohen. After transferring from Pearl River Community College and having two productive seasons at MSU, Hogue will take his talents to the next level. The Houston Astros selected Hogue in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Thursday.
STARKVILLE — The Hamilton High School Dizzy Dean baseball team used an “Earnest” effort Thursday to get a victory at Starkville Academy. Dylan Earnest had seven strikeouts and two hits and Ethan Earnest added two hits to help the Lions defeat the Volunteers 10-5. The umpires stopped the second game of the doubleheader in the third inning when a bank of outfield lights wouldn’t come on. Baseball is a family affair at Hamilton with brothers Ethan and Austin Earnest and cousin Dylan Earnest.
Mark Hysaw knows what the older player in the Columbus High School baseball program can do. Hysaw has coached rising seniors Avery Ford, Tyji Hawkins, and Josh Tentoni as they have moved through their middle school years into the twilight of their high school careers. That’s why Hysaw is excited to see what those players can do in their final go-around with the Falcons. Ford and his teammates continued their strong showing Thursday night with 16-6 and 14-4 five-inning victories against Starkville in Dizzy Dean action at Sammy Fletcher Field in Columbus.
STARKVILLE — Willie Gillespie wants to educate young people of the community about the sport of football. With the help of some of his friends, Gillespie is set to do that with Camp Complete on June 19-20 at Starkville High School.
I didn’t know Don Foster well. There were plenty of times in my first year as sports editor I saw Don at high school or college events. We never did get too chatty with each other, but we did say hello and then went about our jobs in our own ways. But now that Foster, who died Monday at his home in West Point, is gone, I will remember one event we covered more than any other.
Heritage Academy has a new face that lights up the night. The private, independent school in Columbus is putting the finishing touches on a $250,000 construction project that has added more than 3,000 square feet to the school’s gymnasium.
The easy part was the wait for Mississippi State junior first baseball Conner Powers. Now comes the decision. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Powers in the 11th round Wednesday in the Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s men’s basketball program wasn’t afraid about going after McDonald’s All-American Renardo Sidney as it appeared other schools were. Despite an on-going process concerning Sidney’s eligibility, Mississippi State officials believe signing him was the right thing to do and are confident he will be on the court in the near future. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury insists recruiting Sidney was in the best interest of the program and the player.
STARKVILLE — Emanuel Mayers invested the time in the fall. The hours training spent in September and October blended into more hours on the track in December and January. The goal was to build a base that could help him reach the highest level of Division I track and field. Mayers realized that goal May 29-30 at the Mideast Regional Championships, and today he plans to begin to build on that success.
Javier Esquivel and A.J. Foster want to build something. As veteran soccer players and coaches, Esquivel and Foster understand boys and girls can’t become world-class players with the snap of two fingers. But the new Columbus High School boys soccer coaches want players, parents, and fans to know they plan to put a process in place that will help the Falcons learn how to play the game and to develop into better players.
STARKVILLE — The love of Starkville led Matthew Rye through an open door at the Starkville Parks and Recreation department in 2005. After four years with the department, Rye gets the opportunity to lead. Rye assumed the position as parks and recreation director June 1 after Clark Roman retired.
Rachel Dees, Cheng Ye, and Rick Deaton combined to win 21 first places May 23-24 to lead the Mississippi Shockwave Aquatics team to the overall title at the Tunica Summer Invitational in Tunica. Dees, who competed in the girls 13- to 14-year-old age group, won eight events, while Ye won seven events in the boys 11-12 division and Deaton took six first in the boys 13-14 bracket.
The East Webster High School softball program didn’t have to look far to find a replacement for coach Bill Brand. Former East Webster High fast-pitch softball coach Dallas Ferguson and assistant football and fast-pitch softball coach Ken Williamson were recently named to replace Brand as the school’s slow-pitch and fast-pitch coaches.
The Southern Mississippi football program already has made an impression on Rickey Knox. Wednesday afternoon was an opportunity for Knox and more than 70 other football players from the region to get to know the Golden Eagles’ coaches and program even better. Coach Larry Fedora and members of his coaching staff worked out players from Lowndes County, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee for more than two hours Wednesday at Columbus High School.
Tyler Aldridge is on the road back to 100 percent. Even though arm problems prevented the Caledonia High School baseball standout from having an ideal senior season, Aldridge still was recognized as one of the area’s top players. On Saturday, Aldridge will take the field one more time as a high schooler when he and six other area players participate in the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star games at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
4. Walters column: Noxubee County rarely backs away from challenge HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. MSU men's basketball releases non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS