By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
PEARL – Locke Hester and Robin Shumaker stood together Monday near the finish line in shock, fighting back tears. The two members of Pontotoc’s 4×400 meter relay team thought they had blown the state championship.
“I thought we had lost; I didn’t even watch the finish,” said Shumaker, a sophomore.
“I felt like I had disappointed my team,” Hester added. “We let our nerves get to us.”
Minutes later, their sorrow turned to happiness. Pontotoc, despite its eighth place finish in the meet’s final race, edged rival Corinth by four points, 82-78, to win the program’s fourth consecutive MHSAA Class 4A state championship in track and field.
“I will never take another state championship for granted,” said relay teammate Katy McAuley, who later kissed the title trophy.
The state championship was the 12th for Pontotoc head coach Mike Bain in girls and boys track. He’s also led the Warriors to 33 cross country state crowns.
“We’ve battled all year with Corinth,” he said. “They’ve pushed us to the limit. We were fortunate we didn’t have to have (the 4×400) today.”
Pontotoc’s McAuley vaulted 10-feet, 6-inches to win the 4A pole vault, but it wasn’t easy.
She ran the first leg of the 4×200, then sprinted across the infield to the vault. “When I got there I was up,” McAuley said. “It’s really tough.”
McAuley attempted, but missed, on 11 feet.
Potts Camp’s Brantley Harris closed out his high school career with a state championship-winning vault of 12-0 in Class 2A.
Tupelo’s defending 6A state champions in the 3,200 meters – sophomores Darnell Collier and Christina Daniels – lost in their attempts to repeat.
Collier ran a PR with his 10:13.99 clocking, but it wasn’t enough to topple a 9:55.34 posted by Daniel Carter of Ocean Springs.
Daniels defeated Madison Central’s Rebecca Buteau at North state, but this was Buteau’s day. The freshman won the 3,000 in 11:08.10 to Daniels’ 11:16.16 clocking. She also won the 1,600 meters while Daniels placed fourth.
Corinth’s Emma Knight won the 4A 1,600 meters while Lafayette’s Peyton Hamann took 4A 800 and 3,200 meters.
On the track, Lafayette’s talented football running back D.K. Buford sprinted to victory in the 4A 100 and 200 meters.
Ole Miss football signee, West Bolivar’s Kailo Moore, won the 2A 100 meters in 10.68. He ran a 10.23 last week in the North state meet at Potts Camp.