From School Reports
Over the last several months, Meridian Community College has
been signing track and field student-athletes across the South to National
Letters of Intent, for the return of their track and field and cross country
programs. Coach Gayden has built a recruiting class that brings depth,
and balance across the program.
“From the beginning, I knew that we would need to be a
balanced team across the board. We would need to be able to score points
in as many events as possible to be competitive at the national level and I
think we have done that,” Coach Gayden said.
MCC’s recruiting class includes 11 men and 3 women, who look
to help restore MCC as a dominate track and field program on the national
“This recruiting class really helps lay the foundation of
what we want to do.” Coach Gayden said. “It includes a great amount of
talent in numerous events, and student-athletes that we believe can compete on
the national stage at the NJCAA National Championships.”
The men are led by Chris Lewis, K’Lan Harris, Antonio Owens,
Traveon Gayden, Bryson Penton, Ollie Tate, Orlando Tate, Lakendric Tuck,
Raekwon Marrow, Devontre Young and Josh Austin.
Leading the program in the sprints will be Chris Lewis,
Antonio Owens, Traveon Gayden and Ollie Tate.
Lewis is a 100 and 200 meter sprinter from Lakeside High
School in Sibley, LA. Lewis is currently ranked 20th
nationally in the 100 meters with a personal best of 10.39 and 9th nationally
in the 200 meters with a personal best of 20.95.
Owens, from Meridian High School is a 100 and 200 meter
sprinter. Owens was one of the top sprinters in Mississippi with a
personal best of 21.20 in the 200 meters. His personal best ranked him
amongst the best in the country as a junior.
Traveon Gayden arrives at MCC as one of the state’s top 200
meter runners. Gayden comes to MCC from Ocean Springs High School in
Ocean Springs, MS. Gayden comes to MCC after being ranked fifth in the
state of Mississippi in the 200 meters with a personal best of 21.85 his junior
Ollie Tate is from Yazoo County High School in Yazoo City,
MS where he was one of the top 400 meter runners in the state of
Mississippi. Tate boasts a personal best of 49.87 in the 400
meters. He is also the twin brother of Orlando Tate.
Coach Gayden said this group has the ability to build a
great sprint group at MCC, “This group really has a lot of talent in every
sprint event and gives us the ability to score in the 100,200 and 400 meters.”
The MCC hurdle group will be led by Bryson Penton, Orlando
Tate and Raekwon Marrow.
Penton comes to MCC from Pearl River Central High School in
Carriere, MS. Penton was one of the top sprinters and hurdlers in
Mississippi. He has a personal best of 10.84 in the 100 meters and 40.86
in the 300 meter hurdles.
Orlando Tate, is from Yazoo County High School in Yazoo
City, MS joining his twin brother Ollie Tate. Orlando was one of the top
hurdlers in Mississippi and was the 2014 6A State Champion in the 300 meter
hurdles. Orlando comes to MCC with personal bests of 15.19 in the 110
meter hurdles and 39.68 in the 300 meter hurdles.
Marrow, a Florida native, joins the MCC program from Wolfson
High School in Jacksonville, FL. At Wolfson, Marrow was ranked in the top
20 in the state in the 300 meter hurdles. Marrow comes to MCC with
personal bests of 14.53 in the 110 meter hurdles and 38.72 in the 300 meter
“This group has the ability to help us in the 110 meter
hurdles and the 400 hurdles along with assist us on our 4x400 meter
relay. The have the ability to do a lot of things for us and helping us
build a great group of hurdlers,” Coach Gayden said.
The jumps group is led by K’Lan Harris, Lakendric Tuck, and
Harris comes to MCC as one of the top ranked long jumpers in
the country. Out of Henry County High School in Georgia, Harris was
ranked #10 nationally in the long jump in the 2013. As a junior, Harris
posted a personal best of 23’10 in the long jump last season. In 2014 he was
the Georgia Olympics runner-up in the long jump. Harris also boasts a
personal best of 48.71 in the 400 meters.
Tuck joins the MCC program by way of Harrison Central High
School in Gulfport, MS. Tuck was the 6A runner-up in the 6A State
Championship in the long jump and the 6A State Champion in the triple
jump. Tuck was ranked 2nd in Mississippi in the long jump with
a personal best of 23-9 and first in the state in the triple jump with a
personal best of 48-6.5.
Young comes to MCC from Harrison High School in Kennesaw,
GA. Young was one of the top high jumpers and 400 meter runners in the
state of Georgia as a senior. During his senior year, Young boasted
personal bests in the high jump with a mark of 6-8 and a personal best in the
400 meters with a 49.26.
Coach Gayden believes this group has the opportunity to do a
lot of things and has a great amount of depth. “This group has the ability to
score really well at the national meets in their respective jumping events, but
also the opportunity to score for us in the 400 meters or the 4x400 meter
In the middle distance group the team is led by Josh Austin.
Austin comes to MCC by way of Brandon High School in Brandon, MS. While
at Brandon, Austin captured the 2014 6A State Championship in the 800 meters
with a personal best of 1:59. His time at the state meet was good enough
to rank him 2nd in the state of Mississippi in the 800 meters.
“Josh has the ability to do a lot of special things for us
in the 800 meters. He is very talented and runs with a lot of heart and
has a great upside,” Coach Gayden said.
The women’s program is led by three women in Esmeralda
Rodriguez, Breonnah Thomas and Jocindra Glee.
Rodriguez comes to MCC from Lafayette High School in Oxford,
MS. Rodriguez was one of the top senior female distance runners in
Mississippi. She comes to MCC with personal best of 12:15 in the 3200
meters on the track and 15:51.90 in cross-country.
Breonnah Thomas joins the MCC program from Phenix City, AL
and Central High School. Thomas comes in as one of the top 400/800
runners in Alabama. Thomas has personal bests of 59.14 in the 400 meters
and 2:23.60 in the 800 meters.
Glee, from Evans High School in Orlando, FL, joins the
program to compete in the 400 meters, 400 hurdles and triple jump. Glee
comes to MCC with personal bests of 1:05.21 in the 400 hurdles and 58.66 in the
Coach Gayden said he has 30 walk-on’s that will be joining
the program in the fall to go along with these 13 signees in the fall, “We have
a good group of walk-on’s that are coming in that I believe will really bring a
great amount of depth to our program and have the ability to work their way up
to being scorers at the national meet for us in both open events and on
Coach Gayden is eager to start practice with this team with
the return of the program right around the corner, “This group is a very
talented group, that will have the opportunity to really surprise a lot of
people and be a contender at national championship meets and I am excited to
Community College will make its long awaited return to competition on August 30
with the cross country team, at the MC Season Opener, hosted by Mississippi