Oxford, Myrtle girls run to state titles

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

PEARL – Three points separated Oxford’s girls and host Pearl late Friday afternoon in the MHSAA Class 5A state track and field meet.
“It was close,” Oxford coach Jamie Perkins said. “Pearl had a runner in the 200 meters (next to last event) and we didn’t.”
What Oxford did have was senior pole vaulter Mollie-Beth Ott and its 4×400 meter relay team attempting to score enough points to bring a third consecutive state championship home to Lafayette County.
Ott came through with a late win – 10-0 vault – in her event while the 4×400 team of Erika Sisk, Chelsea Johnson, Kristen Dickerson and Ann Houston raced through a light rain to give the Lady Chargers a win in the relay – 4 minutes, 05.68 seconds – and enough points to beat Pearl – which finished last in the 200 meters by the way – by 15 points for the state title.
The Lady Chargers scored 96 points to Pearl’s 81.
Myrtle’s Lady Hawks, behind stars Halle Knowles and Aspriona Gilbert, captured a nine-point victory – 96 to 87 over Coldwater – in Class 1A.
The win was the second in three seasons for the Lady Hawks and the seventh overall for the Myrtle track program.
“We’re losing two good ones in Halle and Aspriona, but we’ll regroup,” Myrtle coach Chris Greer said. “We had the worst meet in Myrtle history last year. We only scored 40-something points.
“This year we come back and score 96. What we did takes sacrifice.”
Knowles won the 400 meters, long jump and triple jump while Gilbert captured the discus and shot put.
Charleston (3A girls), Pearl (5A boys), East Side (3A boys) and Hinds AHS (1A boys) won their team state titles.
“It was a phenomenal day,” said Perkins, who has coached Oxford all three seasons. “A third straight is special. A three-peat in anything is like a dynasty.”
Oxford entered the meet without an injured qualifier in the 3,200 meters and had two runners fall in the 4×100 relay and 100 hurdles Friday. Perkins estimated that those losses cost the team as many as 18 points.
Ott vaulted 10-feet to set a new 5A class record. The 4×400 unit raced without two injured runners.
“Mollie-Beth and Erika are senior leaders,” Perkins said. “This senior class is phenomenal. It’s been a privilege to coach these girls. They’re a great group.”
Sisk, a Murray State basketball signee, won individual state championships in her specialties – the long jump, 18-04 feet, and triple jump, 40-02 feet.
Her effort in the triple jump came up 2.25 inches short of the overall state record – 40-04.25 – set by Olympian Brittany Reese of Gulfport/Ole Miss in 2004.
“I was going for 40,” Sisk said.

Click video to hear audio