Field events help put BHS Panthers at top of 5A track

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, May 11, 2024

The sign of a highly developed track and field team comes in that second word, field. With so many points available in the events that involve jumping or throwing or vaulting, the top teams have a specialist in every spot.

The Brookhaven High School track and field team is an elite collection of athletes that recently won a third-straight MHSAA 5A girls’ state championship and a second boy’s title in the last three years.

The BHS boys’ team got a gold medal performance in the high jump from senior Xavier Gayten. A Mississippi State football signee, Gayten held off two competitors from Canton High to capture first place. He also spent time during the spring competing for the BHS powerlifting team.

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The Panthers also won second and third in the long jump, as senior Waltrelle Smith earned silver and senior Nathan Lewis won bronze. Smith also finished second in the triple jump.

BHS even had a competitor in pole vault, where senior Kelan Quarles finished fourth out of five competitors. Freshman Markiell Robinson finished fourth in the discus throw for the Panthers.  

One area where Brookhaven High was especially strong at the state level was the throwing events, where Panthers won a gold in shot put and discus.

Freshman Coderro McDaniel won the boys’ shot put for Brookhaven High. The big man, McDaniel stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 295-pounds, had his biggest throw of the season, a toss that traveled 44-feet, 11-inches.

In winning, McDaniel beat a sophomore from East Central High that had topped him last week at 5A South State in Hattiesburg.

It was the second-straight year for BHS to capture 5A shot put gold in the boys’ field, as current Mississippi College student-athlete Brodie Ezell swept the discus and shot put gold in 2023.

Jocelyn Robinson works with the athletes in discus and shot put for Brookhaven High. She says McDaniel’s success has come via hard work.

“Coderro already looks like a champion and his mindset matches his stature,” said Robinson. Everything that I asked of him in practice was done without any complaints. He was already good, but he told me he wanted to be the best. Countless hours of training in the proper technique and getting him comfortable with his implement made that possible. He mastered the shot put circle as a freshman and put his veteran competition to shame by throwing a 44.11 and winning state.”

Last year, while McDaniel was winning the state middle school shot put competition for Alexander Junior High, Brookhaven High sophomore Kema Roberts was competing on the state level of the 5A girls’ discus throw.

Roberts, an All-Area selection in basketball, finished third last year in the discus as a freshman.

In 2024 as a sophomore, she dominated the state meet.

Roberts’ winning throw traveled over 105 feet and the second-place finisher from Laurel had a best throw that went just under 95 feet.

“Kema has one of the biggest hearts out of all the athletes I think I have ever coached,” said Robinson. “That, along with how hard she trains to perfect her technique, undoubtedly makes her a fierce competitor. She practices on and off the field, so it was easy for us to set weekly goals based on her quest to win state.”

With two young champions already on the roster, the goal Robinson has for McDaniel and Roberts to stay on top in the years to come.

“I’m looking forward to continued growth from both of these athlete’s next season,” said Robinson. “Weve made it to the top already, so we won’t look back. The goal is to always get better than you were the day before, the month before, or the year before so we’ll train harder, get stronger, and see where it takes us.”