Through all of the ups and downs, Anthony King could look at eight athletes who were with him Monday and say they almost did the unthinkable.
Still, after losing key point scorers during the season and competing Saturday without another team member, the West Lowndes High School boys track and field team nearly surprised everyone and won the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A State title at Pearl High.
But Myrtle used a first-third-fourth showing in the pole vault to score 72 points and edge West Lowndes and Ray Brooks (second with 64) for the state championship.
“I figured it would be in the 60s to win it, but Myrtle had 24 points from the pole vault, which really sealed the fate for us,” King said. “For these guys to go down their and do as well as they did, I tip my hat to them. It was an outstanding day.”
Senior Syborris Pippins, who wasn’t at school Monday, finished fourth in the 100 meters (11.48), third in the 400 (52.94), and first in the 200 (22.92).
West Lowndes finished sixth in the 4×800 relay team of Marshall Lockett, James Thomas, Chayil Phinizee, and Casey Smith, (10 minutes, 27.41 seconds), Deshaunte Dickerson was third in the 110 hurdles (17.23) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (47.61), Lockett was fourth in the 110 hurdles (17.53) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (46.44), and Nicholas Foster was sixth in the 110 hurdles (20.24), seventh in the 300 hurdles (49.12), and sixth in the long jump (17 feet, 8 inches), the 4×200 relay team of Foster, Phinizee, Quinshawn Luscious, and Pippins, was second (1:35.59), Courtney Stovall was seventh in the 1,600 (5:32.60), and Phinizee was second in the 200 (24.24).
“We wouldn’t have even been there without him,” King said of Pippins. “He had a good day.”
King said there could have been a different outcome if a few things had changed, but he didn’t question his athletes’ fight. He said the Panthers “didn’t quit” and realized they had to try to give their best to contend for a state title. He hopes that the nine athletes who attended the meet can set an example for everyone at the school to remain committed to what they are doing, whether it is their schoolwork or their participation in a sport.
“I think it will keep the guys believing,” said King, who will step down as the school’s boys track and field coach to be an assistant coach for Todd Stanley on the school’s baseball team. “We told them at the beginning of the season — like in all sports — we have a shot at a state championship if they put in a little extra work, be a little more dedicated, and have a lot more discipline. If you do that, you can always compete for a state championship, especially here at West Lowndes because we have pretty good athletes. If the kids just believe and work a little harder, they can be at that level in each sport, pretty much.
“It has been a good year athletically. The football team (which King coaches) was two games from State. The boys basketball team played for a state title, and the track and field team came in second in the state. If we would have had a little more commitment, we would have been the state champion, but I also wish every kid at the school had the commitment that these guys (referring to the nine who attended the meet). If more kids have the kids like that, we would have had a state championship in several sports. I hope they can learn from this and keep believing, and maybe we can do it again next year (after losing only two seniors, Pippins and Thomas).”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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