By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Starkville’s Mary Elizabeth Stringer waited for just the right moment to make her move on Tupelo’s Katherine Steinman.
“I could feel her starting her push,” said Stringer, a freshman, who had been on Steinman’s heels throughout Thursday’s Division 2-6A 1,600-meter race. “I decided to put everything I had out there and pour it on her.”
Steinman, a veteran runner with state championship hardware, could sense her competition making a move and kicked into her racing gear.
“There was never a time when we weren’t close today,” Steinman said. “We pushed each other.”
The two friends from summer running camp sprinted neck and neck down Tupelo High School’s royal blue track for a bang-bang finish that Steinman won in 5 minutes, 47.62 seconds. Stringer crossed in 5:47.75.
“That was my best time,” Stringer said. “I was really pushing, but she was pushing, too. I thought we both did really well.”
Tupelo’s girls won the first of three state meet qualifiers with 119 points. Starkville was second with 74 and Columbus third with 52.
The host Golden Wave also captured the boys team championship with 103 points. South Panola was second with 68, followed by Starkville with 47 and Columbus with 36.
The regional meet is scheduled for next Saturday in Oxford while the North state meet is May 8 in Tupelo. The 6A state meet is May 15 in Pearl.
Tupelo’s Max Holman, an Ole Miss signee, was a triple winner with victories in the 800 (2:01), 1,600 (4:42) and 3,200 (9:48).
Julia Neely of Tupelo won the 800 in 2:38 while Samantha McAlister won the 200 in 26.43. Sierra Long gave the Lady Wave a win in the 100 in 12.74.
South Panola freshman sprinter Tony Conner, a starting safety on the Tigers’ state championship football team, won the 100 (10.87) and 200 (22.13).
“I was running with a bruised thigh,” the young speedster said. “I hurt it in spring football practice.”