MAKING THE LEAP: South State Champion Polk highlights Picayune’s 5A State qualifying athletes

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2017

GULFPORT — Over 30 schools competed in the 5A-6A South State track meet in Gulfport Saturday, but one local athlete rose above the competition.

Picayune’s Ronald Polk soared in the boys long jump competition, reaching 20’ 8’’ to become the South State Champion.

“Ronald is an all around good kid and works his heart out in whatever he sets his mind to,” Coach Adam Feeley said.

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Polk also participated in three other events, helping Picayune place 2nd in the 4×200 meter relay, 4th in the 4×400 meter relay and 3rd in the 400-meter dash.

The Picayune track team has come a long way in just a short amount of time, from qualifying for only one state track event last year to eight this year.

“We’ve seen a huge improvement in the whole team this year, boys and girls. The kids are just more involved in the team and seem more interested in winning and are really taking in the competitive nature of the sport,” Feeley said.

The majority of the qualifying state track individuals are multi-sport athletes at Picayune Memorial High School, which Feeley said gives them an edge when it comes to competitiveness and camaraderie.

Feeley and the rest of the Picayune coaching staff hope to bring home more than one 1st plae medal at the state track meet on Friday.

“We have so many gifted athletes that I know will compete for the top spot of their event Friday. We are all excited to see what happens,” he said.

The Picayune girls 4×100 meter relay team finished in 4th place during the South State competition with a time of 52.77 seconds. The team consisted of Nyrina Mcgill, Shamiah Bridges Jaden Hall and Camille Culpepper.

Picayune’s Josh Littles qualified by placing 2nd overall in the boys 100-meter dash with a time of 10.99 seconds. Behind him was Picayune’s Elijah Burton who also qualified for the event with a time of 11.01 seconds, according to statistics provided by Feeley.

The boys 4×200 meter relay, consisting of Shaun Anderson, Polk, Burton and Littles qualified with a time of 1:31.81.

The boys 4×400 meter relay, made up of Curdevone Jackson, Melvin Taylor, Chris Magee and Polk, qualified with a time of 3:43.

Burton also ran in the 200-meter dash, qualifying with a time of 23.17, which placed him 2nd in the South State track meet Saturday.

Overall, the boys track team finished 4th overall at South State out of 16 teams, according to statistics provided by Feeley.

The State track meet will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Pearl High School.