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Terrell tops them all: VHS sprinter wins gold in three events, sets record in 200 meters

Published 10:31 am Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post — Vicksburg High's Terrell Smith crosses the finish line to win the Class 5A state championship in the 200 meters on Monday. It was Smith's third victory of the day at the state track meet at Pearl High School.
Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post — Vicksburg High’s Terrell Smith crosses the finish line to win the Class 5A state championship in the 200 meters on Monday. It was Smith’s third victory of the day at the state track meet at Pearl High School.

PEARL — Terrell Smith crossed the finish line, rounded the curve and looked at the scoreboard. The number, 20.98, sent a flutter through his heart.

A second later, the official time of his 200 meters popped up and settled it back down. Suddenly, the man who had everything didn’t have the one thing he coveted most.

Smith’s time of 21.03 seconds in the 200 meters was an overall state record, but still short of the sub-21 second goal he’d set for himself.

It was just about the only thing Smith didn’t accomplish Monday at the Class 5A state track meet. He won two other state championships, in the long jump and 100 meters, and staked his claim as one of the greatest high school sprinters in Mississippi history.

“I feel like I did pretty good today. I PR’d a couple of times. I’m feeling OK,” Smith said.

Smith, a Kansas State signee, finished his high school career with seven state championships to his credit.

His victory in the 200 meters was his fourth in a row, and he won his second straight title in the 100 meters with a time of 10.71. For the second year in a row, his time was the fastest in any classification at the state meet.

“I felt like I had a bad start and got out slow, but I followed through, I calmed down, I stayed smooth. I pushed forward to the end, lifted my knees more and finished through the line,” Smith said.

Seemingly just for variety’s sake, Smith also won his first state long jump championship on Monday.

After East Central’s Nate Boone took an early lead in the competition with a leap of 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, Smith went 23-6 on his next jump. Later on, Smith went 23-8 for the official winning mark.

“I’m happiest with my long jump. I PR’d real big. I probably could’ve been at 24 (feet) if I hit the board,” Smith said.

A dropped baton in the 4×100 meter relay cost Smith a shot at a fourth gold medal, but his sights had been set on the 200 all along.

His goal wasn’t just to win, or even break the two-year-old overall state record of 21.08 seconds held by Shelby Broad Street’s Jermale Moseby. It was to put it out of reach and make even more history by becoming the first person to break the 21-second barrier,

There was little doubt that Smith, who clocked a time of 20.79 seconds at last week’s state meet, would win Monday. He took the lead in the first 50 meters and won by nearly a full second — about five meters on the track — over Clarksdale’s Justin Thomas.

As he rounded the curve for the final 100 meters, however, Smith encountered a tougher foe — Mother Nature.

A stiff headwind blew down the straightaway, likely costing Smith the sub-21 second finish he sought.

The wind was a minus-2.5 reading on the track’s gauge, on a scale that goes up to 4.0. According to conversion charts Smith’s time would’ve been about two-tenths of a second faster without the wind.

“I’m really happy, especially with a 2.5 headwind. But I was this close,” Smith said. “Very close to breaking the record. Can’t be that disappointed. I’ll keep moving on to next year.”