PEARL – Aimee Walker won the state championship last season for Myrtle in the 3,200 meters.
This year, she was a gracious loser to teammate Rhagen Hopper in the same event in Saturday’s MHSAA Class 1A state track and field meet at Pearl High School.
Walker, a sophomore, led the eight-lap race until the final 200 meters, when Hopper, a junior, kicked in and sprinted ahead to the finish line for a win in 13-minutes, 05.03 seconds.
“It’s a nice sacrifice if we win,” said Walker, who finished second in 13:09.90. “We’re teammates; we feed off each other.”
Myrtle’s all-around team effort eventually led to a state championship for the Lady Hawks, who scored 78 points to defeat Northeast Mississippi opponent Houlka with 65 points and the rest of the field.
Hopper appreciated her teammate’s sacrifice.
“It’s hard to lead the whole race,” Hopper said. “I had more energy to kick at the end. We both race our best times of the season.”
Walker had beaten Hopper all season in the 3,200 until last week’s North Mississippi meet.
Also for Myrtle, Emily Graham won the pole vault, Halle Knowles won the 800 and 1,600 meters while the 4×400 relay unit of Knowles, Hopper, Walker and Danielle Hogue sealed the championship with a second-place finish.
“We had heard, ‘This team might beat you or this team might beat you,”’ said Hogue, who is one of the team’s two seniors, along with Graham.
“Our coach (Chris Greer) believed in us,” added Walker.
Max’s big show
Tupelo’s Max Holman says race weather conditions were not ideal for setting school records in distance runs.
“It was a little more humid than my preference,” he said, “but the show must go on.”
Holman captured his second consecutive Class 5A 3,200 meters state championship with a 9:40.77 clocking. His goal was to break the Golden Wave record of 9:29.
“It was still a great day to race,” he said.
Later in the day, he won the 1,600 meters, beating rival Quartez Rogers of Starkville.
Holman won in 4:28.21 while Rogers, who beat him in the region and North meets, finished in 4:35.22.
“It wasn’t about beating him,” Holman said. “It was about doing the best I could.”
Tupelo junior Hal Boerner tied a school record in the pole vault with a leap of 14-feet, 6-iches, but finished second in 5A.
That’s because Clinton’s high-soaring Stephen Greer broke his state meet record of 14-11 with a vault of 15-6.
Boerner’s pole broke on his attempt at 15 feet.
“That was crazy,” Boerner said of Greer’s record vault.
Best for last
Houlka’s Raeshundra Douglas finally won a state title in the final race of her high school career with a 16:35 victory in the 1A girls 100-meter hurdles.
“This was my last event,” said the senior, who placed second earlier in the day in the high jump. “I was confident coming in that I could win.”
Douglas finished the season unbeaten in the hurdles.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal