RUNNERS TO YOUR MARKS
By Mike Talbert
Saturday, the Daily Journal Relays will try for the second time to debut on the new track at Tupelo High School.
Last season when the new track was opened, the Daily Journal Relays had to be scrubbed for the first time because of heavy storms. Previously the relays were held at Robbins Field.
Meet director and Tupelo High School track coach Jamie Mitchell said that while there is a possibility for rain this weekend, it is important that the Relays not miss a second time.
“Last year was disappointing for two reasons, one was personal and the other was that for a lot of teams, this is the only opportunity for them to compete in an invitational before the divisional track meets,” Mitchell said.
Thirty-five teams are expected to compete in the three divisions. The Daily Journal Relays will start at 9 a.m. with the field events and the 3,200-meter runs. The scratch meeting for the meet starts at 8:30 a.m.
New features for the Daily Journal Relays this year will be the electronic timing system and computer scoring system. Mitchell said that the days of eight hand timers are gone. He also said that it will make some of the Daily Journal Relays records harder to break, because the electronic times tend to be slower than hand times.
He pointed specifically to the hand-timed 100-meter record of Kenny Ray Roberts of Hamilton, whose 1988 mark of 10.6 seconds would be pretty hard to beat by any timing system.
Mitchell also noted that Joe Gunn of Amory, who finished third in the state in the Class 3A 100 meters with a 10.7 run last year, heads a field of talented sprinters scheduled to be at the track Saturday.
Mitchell hopes one of the best shots for setting a new Relays record will come from one of his sprinters, Ish Johnson, who ran a 51.05-second 400 meters last week in the Tri-State Challenge at THS. That is only seven-tenths of a second off the Daily Journal Relays record of 50.33 seconds was set in 1989 by Marcus Brooks of West Point.
The Golden Wave has to be considered the favorite in the larger school division of the Relays after winning the Tri-State Challenge last week and the Magnolia Track and Field Classic at Ole Miss the week before.
“We are very solid all across the field. We feel like we have two good people for each event,” Mitchell said.
Last week the Tupelo 1,600-meter relay team ran a Mississippi best of 3 minutes, 29 seconds even though one of the best legs of the relay, Stevenson McKinney, didn’t compete in the event.
Mitchell said that Pontotoc of Division 2 and Biggersville in Division 3 may be the teams to beat.
It is hard to rate a lot of the teams, Mitchell said, because many schools in the area use the Daily Journal Relays to open their track season.