The 10 members of the Starkville High School track team that qualified for the Class 6A state meet have one thing on their minds today.
Upon their rival in Pearl, the Yellowjackets are ready to give the best effort possible for the highest finish possible.
Starkville track coach Chris Barnett believes he has enough boys qualified for the event to make a run at a team title, but knows the right things must happen for that to become a reality.
"We have the potential to do it, but there are a lot of factors and everyone has to give it their best," Barnett said. "Meridian qualified 12 or 13 (athletes) so they'll be tough. We qualified as many as Clinton, but Brandon has a couple of throwers that will have a chance to knock them down."
The Jackets have worked with a lighter schedule this week, while brushing up on some fundamental things that could make a difference.
Barnett said the participants have done everything possible to prepare and doesn't anticipate any surprises at the state meet.
"Coming off district and region, they have really seen what it's all about," Barnett said. "We've talked to them about it and they've seen the times everyone else has run. The only thing to do now is go out and do their best.
"As far as running, either they are going to be in the shape they need to be in to be able to win or they're not. There's nothing much you can do at this point and no magic you can do in a week. You won't get prepared in a week to run 10 miles."
Starkville's 4x200 boys relay team reached second-team United States Elite status with a time of 1:29.56 earlier this season. The team of Gabe Myles, Devin Mitchell, Jacoby Smith and Julien Lewis bettered that time at the Class 6A North State meet to 1:28.74, but ended up finishing third.
Myles knows that a few tweaks here and there can go a long way in helping the Jackets claim first place in the 4x200.
"We broke our earlier season time and that's with bad handoffs so if we get our handoffs right, we could be first place at state," Myles said.
The other state qualifiers on the boys side are Lewis in the 100-meter dash, Charles Hughes in the 110-meter hurdles, Jacoby Smith in the 400-meter dash, Kamau Bostic in the 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs, Jalan Catledge in the triple jump, and the North State champion 4x400 relay team of Catledge, Bostic, Smith and Hughes. Bostic captured first place in the 800 meters at North State.
For the SHS girls, Walker Mattox is qualified in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs and Mary Elizabeth Stringer in the 800-meter run.
Classes 6A, 4A and 2A begin today's meet with the pole vault at 10 a.m., then the remainder of the field events start at 11 a.m. The 3,200-meter run begins at 11:30 a.m. and the other running events follow at 2 p.m.
Barnett is excited about the fact that all of those participants except the senior Lewis are underclassmen.
"Everybody competing at state, except Julien, has a chance to come back next year along with a couple of other people that will have a year in the system," Barnett said.