HAMILTON — Good athletes come by their talent naturally and, rightfully so, are remembered for their extraordinary athletic skills. Unfortunately, because some have been blessed with an abundance of athletic ability and little else, they never learn that becoming an exceptional athlete takes more than having fantastic skills. So what distinguishes a good athlete from a great one?
KOSCIUSKO — The Caledonia High School girls track and field team won the Class 4A, Division 4, District 4 title Thursday at Kosciusko High School. Caledonia scored 164 points to beat Noxubee County (second, 118 points) and Amory (third, 113). Louisville was fourth with 42 points. Caledonia’s Jessica Comer won individual titles in the 800 (2 minutes, 29 seconds), 1,600 (5:41), and 3,200 meters (12:31). She also teamed with Brooke Lester, Isis Perkins, and Jelisha Hackman to win the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 4:31.
Shockwave Aquatics swim coach Robert Gonzalez couldn’t have asked for much more. After his swimmers delivered 83 to 84 percent best times at the Mississippi Swimming, Inc. Short Course State Championships in February, Gonzalez wasn’t sure what would come next. But with the start of the summer season quickly approaching, Gonzalez believes his team’s runner-up performance to the Mississippi Makos will carry over. He also hopes his team’s efforts, which included three state records and nine competitors who scored 108 or more points, will help attract new members. (The team’s efforts to increase its numbers are highlighted in the accompanying press release.)
STARKVILLE — Greg Carter thought being the only team in the state to end the season with a win would feel different after years of playoff disappointment. The euphoria from winning the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state title gave the Starkville High School boys basketball coach a myriad emotions. The victory lifted a burden from Carter’s shoulders and certified his tenure at the school with a tradition-setting run that finally provided the hardware to prove it. But if returning to the court after failing to accomplish all you set out for is difficult, getting over the jubilation of being the best team in the state has proven just as laborious.
STARKVILLE — If there was a more dominant, exciting, and pivotal player than Starkville High’s Rashad Perkins in The Commercial Dispatch coverage area, it might be his alley-oop launcher Edward Townsel. What put Perkins over the top in The Dispatch’s voting process was his performance in the Class 6A state semifinals and final, where he averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds. He set the tone with a Herculean effort of 25 points, 14 rebounds, 13 blocked shots and five steals against Biloxi. The future Southern Miss Eagle didn’t suffer any lag against Rodney Hood and Meridian.
Laura Lee Holman entered her first year in charge of the New Hope High School girls basketball team by setting the bar at a milestone that hadn’t been reached in 18 years. As a former Lady Trojan, she never experienced the joy of lifting a district championship trophye. Many players came before her and finished their New Hope basketball careers in the same fashion. The goal, in all likelihood, was the same New Hope coaches before Holman had set.
WEST POINT — Sometimes, toughness is ingrained in a player. Growing up in a large family of boys and as a self-proclaimed “country girl,” West Point High School point guard Kelsei Ewings has turned what usually is a disadvantage into a weapon. At 5-foot-5, Ewings is used to being one of the shortest players on the court. But while height typically is coveted at every position, Ewings’ blend of speed, vision, shooting, and grit has given West Point coach Jemmye Ann Helms a dynamic weapon the past three years. Ewings averaged 22 points, five assists, four rebounds, and five steals a game this season, leading the Lady Wave to a 17-7 record and a spot in the first round of the Class 5A North Half State playoffs, where they lost to Yazoo City.
Mississippi State University announced Friday its senior associate athletic director Duncan McKenzie will serve as interim athletic director while the school continues its search for a long term replacement for Greg Byrne.
STARKVILLE — Two weeks ago, Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen could see the effects of a sluggish conference start beginning to take a toll on his team. Cohen made it a point for the coaching staff to analyze every aspect of the Bulldogs’ week –– from batting practice to bullpen routines to overall energy and enthusiasm. During a critical home stretch and in danger of falling behind the eight ball in the race to make the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Cohen sat down with his players and doled out individual assignments and critiques on “effort level and things that we hadn’t been doing a good job of,” Mississippi State senior first baseman Connor Powers said.
STARKVILLE — While most NFL draft prospects head to specialized pre-combine training destinations, Anthony Dixon didn’t see a reason to leave home. After re-writing Mississippi State’s rushing records, the Bulldogs’ heralded running back chose to do his pre-draft testing with MSU strength coach Matt Balis.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State hasn’t had a player selected in the NFL draft since 2007, but this year figures to be the end of that run.
Tony Eddins has been blessed. Born and raised in Columbus, Eddins had the good fortune to be loved by his biological parents and his stepfather and stepmother. He used the positive examples set by his parents to have a successful sports career at New Hope High School, where he excelled at football, basketball, and track and field.
WEST POINT — Brook Robinson’s college plans didn’t initially include softball. Instead, the West Point High School senior intended to concentrate on her interest in art in hopes of possibly becoming a graphic designer or illustrator.
LOUISVILLE — M.C. Miller is coming home. The veteran football coach, who had recently accepted the job as head football coach at Harrison Central High School, left the Red Rebels to return to his hometown Louisville Wildcats after the Louisville School District approved the hiring Wednesday night.
New Hope High School baseball coach Lee Boyd was sure to make note Tuesday of his team’s 13-1 record since the end of March after the Trojans beat Saltillo 13-3 to clinch the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Division 2, District 1 championship. Boyd wants everyone to remember there’s a difference between the way the Trojans are playing now and prior to its hot streak. Offensively, the team is more complete and producing clutch hits.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State football team’s Maroon-White game showcased the Bulldogs’ young talent that could become the household names of the future.
The power of protection is fueling the New Hope High School baseball team. At the heart of the engine, seniors Davis Lee and Jake Smith are doing all they can to help make sure the Trojans realize their goal of winning a state title this season.
Justin Verner had “it” last year. The only problem was he didn’t know how to use his talents in the high school powerlifting world of dead lifts, bench presses, and squats. But the Columbus High School sophomore certainly gets it now, and his reward Saturday was a state title.
Work already has started to build on the best season in Mississippi State women’s basketball history. But the Lady Bulldogs took Monday to celebrate as a group for perhaps one final time at their season-ending banquet at the Hunter Henry Center.
Local swimmers, for the first time ever, will have the opportunity to join the Shockwave Aquatics summer league program and the seventh-annual strokes clinic. The program serves as a transitional step from traditional swim lessons to the year-round Shockwave program with the goal to develop the stroke, skills and confidence of all participants. Swimmers in these programs will have the opportunity to work with Shockwave and Mississippi All-Star coach Robert P. Gonzalez and age-group coach and former Division-1 All-American swimmer Mark Garrigues over the course of the program.
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