The Jackson area will be a hotbed of high school sports activity this week with MHSAA state championships being decided in golf, tennis and track.
In Class 5A golf, which begins two-day play Wednesday at Reunion Country Club in Madison, Tupelo begins defense of its 2008 state title.
The Golden Wave is led by senior Bo Reed, a recent Meridian Community College signee, and sophomore Fletcher Johnson, who finished second in medalist play last season to Madison Central’s Thomas Watkins.
“We’re still a young team even though we’ve grown a lot since last year,” Reed said. “We’ve grown as teammates and players.”
Tupelo returns four starters from last year’s title team, including freshmen Wilson Reeder and Noah West. They are joined by junior Tucker Napier.
Golden Wave coach Mark Enis knows there are “high expectations” for his team to repeat as champion.
“Our guys know that; they’re ready for the challenge,” he said.
“There are a lot of high expectations,” added Johnson. “I think we’re handling it well, but we’ll see. We have to go in with no expectations and play our game.”
Madison Central, Northwest Rankin, which lost by 10 strokes to Tupelo last season, and Oak Grove are considered the strongest competition for the Golden Wave.
The Reunion course is long and features fast greens. All five of Tupelo’s players have played at least one round there.
“The greens are big and fast,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to place the ball with your iron shots into the green.”
At Patrick Farms in Brandon, starting today, the second MHSAA girls state tournament will be played in two classes – I and II.
The 2A state tournament is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Forest while the 1A event will be played Thursday and Friday in Puckett.
Class 3A will be played on Thursday and Friday at River Birch in Amory. The 4A state event is May 12-13 at River Birch.
At the Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson, Tupelo is bidding to win its third consecutive team state championship in 5A.
The Golden Wave will play Brandon or Oak Grove today.
Courtney Collins of Itawamba AHS goes for her fourth and final 4A state championship in girls singles when play begins today at the Ridgeland Tennis Center. The University of Memphis signee takes on Yazoo City’s Kenyatta Epps in the first round. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Tuesday.
All of the team and individual competition in Classes 4A and 3A will be played in Ridgeland. The 5A, 2A and 1A matches, team and individual, are scheduled for today and Tuesday at the Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson.
Track and Field
Pearl High School’s track and field facility will again host the state meet Friday (3A, 4A) and Saturday (1A, 2A, 5A).
Starkville sprinter Tavaris Tate is looking to become the first boys sprinter to win the 100, 200 and 400 meters in a state meet.
He has posted the nation’s best times in the 200 and 400 meters this season.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal