Two sophomore sprinters have given the Tupelo track team a chance to make a run at a state title
By D.E. Wheeler
A one and a two. Once upon a time, that is how famous band leader Larwence Welk use to start his orchestra performing a dance number on his TV show.
In 1996, coach Jamie Mitchell has been orchestrating the Tupelo High School track team successfully through its season. Two sophomores sprinters, Lanauldo Bolden and Stevenson McKinney, have been a big part of Tupelo’s success, and more often than not, this pair finishes a 1 and a 2.
“I hate to say they’ve made this team, but they’ve been the cornerstone of the team,” Mitchell said. “And the exciting thing is they’re sophomores.”
Tupelo has run eight meets so far this spring, and Tupelo has won its last seven. Both Bolden and McKinney had nagging injuries early and midway through the season, but in four of the last five meets, this pair has finished first and second in the 200 meters.
The only thing that kept a perfect five for five from happening was that McKinney was held out of the Daily Journal Relays. Also during those five meets, the sophomore pair finished first and second three times in the 100 meters.
In fact, McKinney and Bolden had gone one-two in three straight 100 meters until Saturday at the Class 5A North Mississippi Track Meet when they finished a disappointing four-five. In the north half, the top four finishers qualify for the state meet, which meant McKinney barely qualified and Bolden did not.
“Sometimes, you go out and you don’t feel it on a certain day,” Mitchell said of the pair’s disappointment in the 100 meters. “I don’t feel Lanauldo got out of the blocks good, and Stevenson was not as strong in the middle as he usually is.
“That 100 characterized the whole day (Tupelo had five other fifth place finishes), but I was really proud of the way they bounced back in the 200.”
McKinney ran a 22.12 seconds and Bolden managed a 22.23 for their now normal one-two in Saturday’s 200 meters. And, to top off the meet, McKinney and Bolden were part of the 4×200 and 4×400-meter relay teams that ran state bests of the year of 1:28.80 and 3:22.11, respectively.
“I think the season has gone great so far,” said McKinney, who is the more outgoing of the two sophomores and who could be triple jumping as well next year. “We had a few problems at north half, but we’re working hard to reach the team’s goal.”
How did McKinney and Bolden start down the road to this sophomore success?
McKinney’s road was pretty average, answering a call to come out for freshmen track at Tupelo. Mitchell remembers him as a skinny kid who ran good last year.
Bolden, on the other hand, was true to his shy nature when the call went out for freshmen track. Mitchell recalls that Bolden was standing against the fence surrounding the Tupelo High School track and football field during the first freshmen track pratice last year.
Tupelo assistant coach Fred Hadley went over and talked to Bolden, who then ran in a freshmen meet the very next day.
“He blistered the 200 meters, and we knew we had a special kid,” Mitchell said.
“I’m having fun with track, going on trips, racing against different people,” Bolden said. “I think I’ll do pretty good in the 200 and the mile relay at the state meet.”
The State Track Meet Saturday at Hughes Field in Jackson is next for these two sophomores and the rest of the Tupelo squad. Class 5A, 3A and 1A compete Saturday at Hughes Field, with field events starting at 10 a.m., the 3,200 meters starting at 10:15 a.m., and the other running events starting at 1 p.m.
“With their work habits and work ethic, they have super college potential,” Mitchell said. “We hope they can carry us to the state championship three years in a row.