CALEDONIA — Jessica Comer is gearing up for a challenge.
The Caledonia High School junior plans to be ready.
Comer took her first step Thursday toward her showdown with Pass Christian”s Cory McGee and Poplarville”s Stacy Hagenson by winning the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 meters and teaming with Brooke Lester, Isis Perkins, and Jelisha Hackman to win the 4×400-meter relay at the Class 4A, District 4 meet at Kosciusko High School.
Comer won each individual event going away. She posted a winning time of 2 minutes, 29 seconds in the 800, a time of 5:41 in the 1,600, and a time of 12:31 in the 3,200. The relay team won easily with a time of 4:31.
For her accomplishments, Comer is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
“I think I am doing OK, but I still need to get a lot faster,” Comer said. “That is what is in my head. I have to get back to where I was last year.”
McGee stands in Comer”s way of repeating as a state champion in the 800 and from earning other state titles.
McGee, who signed a scholarship earlier this month to compete at the University of Florida, has the nation”s best time (4 minutes, 49 seconds) in the 1,500 for prep female athletes. She also has dominated the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 the past several years in the state.
Last year, McGee won the 800 (2:13.61), 1,600 (5:06.17), and the 3,200 (10:58.53) in Class 3A, while Comer won the Class 4A crown with a time of 2:21.75. Comer finished third in the 1,600 (5:28.77) and third in the 3,200 (12:17.47).
This year, McGee has the best time in the state in the 800 (2:10.04), while Hagenson (11:58.80) has the best time in the 3,200.
Hagenson is the defending Class 4A champion in the 3,200 (11:56.72). She edged Comer for second last year in the 1,600 (5:28.33) at the Class 4A meet.
Comer is excited about the prospects of challenging McGee and Hagenson. She has recovered from hip tendinitis that bothered her earlier in the season and said she is focused on getting faster so she can be in contention at the end of all three individual races.
“I have to up my times to be close to (McGee) because I don”t want to get blown out of the water,” Comer said. “I want to be able to give her a run for the money in the 800.”
Comer said she feels pretty close to where she was last year. She knows she has to get faster in the two mile and that she is a little off her pace in the mile.
The presence of McGee and Hagenson in the races could help Comer, who hasn”t been challenged very often this season.
In a meet March 26 at Kosciusko, Comer lost to a runner from Carthage in the final part of the 800. Caledonia High girls track and field coach James Reed said the defeat stung Comer and helped her re-focus. She hasn”t lost since that race.
“That motivated her,” Reed said. “She was still recovering from her little tweak, but it doesn”t matter about tweaks. That just goes with the territory. That is the great thing about track. You can”t blame the officials, you can”t blame the weather, you have to line up and go do it.
“That did motivate her because up until that point she hadn”t been pushed by anyone who pushed her like she needed to be pushed. She realized she needed to improve.”
Reed said it will be difficult for Comer to repeat as a champion because McGee is a national caliber runner. But he said anything can happen between today, the regional meet Saturday at Mississippi Valley State, the North Half State meet May 8, and the Class 4A meet on May 15.
That”s why Reed said Comer has to continue to train at a high level because she is going to be counted on to run the 3,200, 1,600, 800, and the 4×400 relay in each of those meets.
“There is going to come a time in the next week or two that we”re going to have competition and we”re going to need to know what she has left because we”re going to have to run the engine down on empty before it is over with,” Reed said. “She is probably ahead of last year”s pace preparing. She had a little stretching problem earlier in the year, but she is over that. We”re going to be all right.”
Comer said she thinks about beating the clock in races like the district meet when she isn”t challenged. She also focuses on maintaining her split times to keep a steady pace. She knows she will receive a different kind of test in the next few weeks.
“Competition pushes you harder, but if you don”t have it, you have to push yourself by yourself. Coach Reed pushes me and he tells me if I have to speed up or slow down every time around.
“Coach Reed says, ”Start hot, finish hot” so that”s what I have to think about.”
Comer also runs the lead leg in the relay. She said she feels a responsibility to get a fast start so she can hand a lead and the baton to her teammates.
n Central Academy loses in playoffs: At Belzoni, The Central Academy baseball had just two hits Monday in a season-ending 13-4 loss to Humphreys Academy in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A state playoffs.
Trevor Eaves” singles were the only hits for Central Academy (8-7).
The Vikings scored all of their runs in the first two innings, benefiting from seven walks and a hit batter. They scored three runs in the first and one in the second.
Humphreys Academy scored two runs in the first, six in the third, three in the fifth, and two in the fifth.
Hunter Campbell was the losing pitcher, allowing eight runs in three innings. Cole Newman pitched the final three innings and gave up five runs.
Commercial Dispatch staff writer Henry Matuszak contributed to this report.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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