Winning track starts with numbers game

Mike Bain will look to guide Pontotoc to a state title for the 46th time today. (File photo)

Mike Bain will look to guide Pontotoc to a state title for the 46th time today. (File photo)

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

Crunching numbers has become an annual rite of spring for Pontotoc High track and field coach Mike Bain.

The longtime coach, who has directed the school’s programs to a combined 45 (12 track, 33 cross country) state championships, wants to know exactly what his team needs to do – points-wise – to win.

Bain’s girls team won last week’s Class 4A North state meet, but because of potential points from South state teams, they will enter today’s state meet in Pearl as an underdog.

Actually, North second-place finisher Lafayette is favored to win state by 14 points.

“The South affects us more than Lafayette,” Bain said, then chuckled. “That’s why you run the meet. Our goal is to do better in some of our events.

“It’s going to be a challenge. The last four years we were favored to win and we did. I want to see how our kids respond to the challenge.”

Pole vaulter Katy McAuley and hurdler Jamaya Johnson won North titles last week for the Lady Warriors.

The Class 2A-4A and 6A meets are Saturday. The 1A-3A and 5A meets are scheduled for Monday.

Wave challenged

Tupelo High’s boys team won its first 6A North state championship since 2008, but the Golden Wave enters today’s meet as an 18-point underdog to the South’s Harrison Central.

That doesn’t faze Tupelo coach Brian Jones. His team was a 7-point underdog to home team Madison Central last week and won.

“You never know how it’s going to play out,” he said. “I’m looking for some of our best performances.

“Everbody’s worked hard and they have a good atttitude. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

Three of the Golden Wave’s top performances at North state came on the track, where a healthy Andrew White nudged teammate Darnell Collier in the 3,200 meters.

White’s clocking was 9 minutes, 55.01. Collier’s was a 9:55.08.

“We don’t care who wins as long as we’re one and two,” said White, who has battled leg problems during his track and cross country career.

In the 800 meters, Mako Dijkwel won in 1:59.91.

gene.phelps@journalinc.com