The MCC Athletics Blog

Officially the "unofficial" MCC Athletic Blog; created for all Eagle fans- so that they can keep tabs of their favorite JuCo team.

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Tuesday

MCC Track Builds Momentum With Solid Recruting



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 stage.

“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 year.
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 hurdles.

“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 Devontre Young.

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 relay. “

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 400 meters.

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 relays.”

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 get started.”

Meridian 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

MCC Announes 2014 Cross Country Schedule


From School Reports

Meridian Community College Cross Country is set for an exciting return in 2014, as MCC head coach Chip Gayden announced the schedule for the fall on Monday. The regular season features five races across Mississippi and Alabama.

“I am excited about the upcoming cross country season and the opportunities it gives our teams to succeed this season,” Gayden said. “With our schedule we wanted to increase the competition level each meet and we do that with the MC Season opener all the way to the Crimson Classic leading up to the NJCAA National Championship.  We are excited to be competing at some of the great colleges and universities in Mississippi and also be invited to one of the best cross country meets in the country in the Crimson Classic hosted by the University of Alabama.”

MCC will make its long awaited return on Saturday Aug., 30. at the MC Season Opener in Clinton, MS hosted by Mississippi College.  MCC will return to Clinton the following weekend for the Martin Epps Classic hosted by Jackson State University on Saturday Sept. 6.  MCC will wrap up September with a trip to Cleveland, MS for the Delta State Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 6.

MCC opens the month of October on Friday, Oct. 3 back in Clinton at the Watson Ford Invitational hosted by Mississippi College.  MCC will wrap up the regular season on Friday, Oct. 17 in Tuscaloosa, AL at the Crimson Classic hosted by the University of Alabama.

The season will wrap up for MCC on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the NJCAA National Championship meet in Levelland, TX hosted by South Plains College.

MCC Athletics Honored by NJCAA



From School Reports

The Meridian Community College athletic department was honored Tuesday afternoon by the National Junior College Athletic Association with academic honors. Four teams from MCC were named as All-Academic Teams by the NJCAA and six individual student-athletes were also recognized.

The MCC baseball team, women’s soccer team, and both tennis squads were named All-Academic Teams by the NJCAA. The baseball team at MCC finished the 2013-2014 academic year with a 3.18 team GPA which was among the top three in the state of Mississippi among all of the MACJC schools. The MCC golf team was also named an All-Academic Team by the NJCAA by finishing the year with a team GPA of 3.05, while the MCC women’s soccer team was also recognized by completing the year with a 3.48 GPA. The GPA for the women’s soccer team at MCC was also ranked among the top three in the MACJC and the nation.

The final two teams that were honored were both tennis teams at Meridian Community College. The men’s tennis team finished with a 3.30 GPA which was ranked second in the MACJC and the women ended the academic year with a 3.45 GPA.

The day was also special for six student-athletes that were separately honored with awards handed out by the NJCAA. The men’s tennis team at MCC led the way by having three players awarded with top academic honors by the NJCAA. Kevin Millet led the way for all of the student-athletes at MCC by winning the Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence by finishing the year with a perfect 4.0 GPA for the men’s tennis team. TJ Carter was named a recipient of the Superior Academic Achievement Award by excelling in the classroom with a 3.92 GPA and Reed Wade was the final player from the tennis team to be honored with the Exemplary Academic Achievement Award with a 3.60 GPA.

The women’s tennis team and the baseball team each had one player recognized to finish out the list of winners. Mallory Davis won the Superior Academic Achievement Award with a 3.84 GPA, while Grant Hill represented the baseball team by winning the Superior Academic Achievement Award with a 3.82 GPA.

The teams that were honored by the NJCAA are coached by Dillon Sudduth (baseball), Wanda McPhail (tennis), and Mike Smith (women’s soccer).  

Friday

MCC Tennis Coach Inducted Into HOF



From School Reports

The Meridian Community College tennis program has just added to its already impressive list of accomplishments for 2014.  At the NJCAA’s national women’s tennis banquet held at the national tennis tournament in May at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, Coach Wanda McPhail, the men’s and women’s tennis coach at MCC, was selected to the prestigious NJCAA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ National Hall of Fame.  Coach John Peterson, retired TJC coach who won twenty-five national championships in his career, was on hand to present the award to Coach McPhail. 

Coach McPhail has just completed her fourteenth year as the coach of the men’s and women’s programs at Meridian.  In her fourteen-years at the helm of MCC tennis, both the men’s and women’s programs have had a great deal of success.  Both of these teams have been to their respective NJCAA National Tennis Tournaments for thirteen years consecutively.  The men advanced to the nationals by winning the Region XXIII Championships in 2002, 2004-2005, and 2007-2012.  The men’s teams were the Runner-up in 2003, 2006, and 2013-2014. 

McPhail’s women’s teams have won ten Region XXIII Championships (2003-2006, 2008-2013) in her fourteen-year career.  They were the runner up in 2002, 2007, and 2014. The women’s team was ranked no. 7 in the nation in 2003 as a Division II team; the 2013 DI team finished the ITA rankings in 8th place.  This year’s team finished in fourteenth place.  The men have found themselves ranked in the top fifteen often; this year’s team finished in the top 20.  Seven MCC tennis players have received the prestigious USTA/ITA Arthur Ashe National Sportsmanship Award-Blake Sherman, Andres Cepede, Kelly Sterling, Tara-Beth Hall, Simon Bardell, Elliott Clark, and Mallory Davis.  The program has had seven ITA All-Americans in singles. 

Coach McPhail was named the Wilson ITA Women’s National Coach of the Year in 2012.  In 2007, she was awarded the Herschel Stephens Award at the men’s national tournament.  This award is voted on by fellow coaches and is given to a coach whose teams have made five appearances at the national tournament and is given for service to the association. 

Coach McPhail was selected the Tennis “Coach of the Year” by the MAC in 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008.  McPhail , who played basketball and tennis at ECCC, was inducted into the ECCC Hall of Fame in 1971 after completion of her sophomore year and the ECCC Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.  In the spring of 2012, McPhail was inducted into the Mississippi Junior College Sports Hall of Fame.  She has been an officer in the NJCAA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Association for nine years; she has served as its president for five years.  She will serve out her term as president in 2015.  She also serves on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Board of Directors as the men’s representative.  She was recently reelected to another two-year term.  As a board member, she serves on the Executive and Budget Committee, Associate Chair of Small College Operating Committee, and as the Men’s JUCO Divisional Chair.  She has served on the ITA ranking committee as well as the awards committee.  Coach McPhail is involved locally by serving as a volunteer on the MTA Junior Committee.  She has USPTR associate instructor certification.
Coach McPhail came to MCC from West Lauderdale High School where she coached women’s basketball, tennis, volleyball, and cheerleaders.  She started the tennis program at WL; her teams advanced to the state playoffs from 1993-1999.  Before coaching at WL, Coach McPhail coached at Kate Griffin Junior High School in Meridian from 1973-1978 before taking a fourteen-year sabbatical to stay at home with her three children. 
A Summa Cum Laude graduate of MSCW, Coach McPhail balanced athletics and academics.  She graduated no. 6 in her class from the “W”, and played volleyball and competitive badminton.  She obtained her Master’s in Education from Mississippi State University in 1978. 

Outside of tennis, Coach McPhail has taught English and wellness classes, has been involved in numerous community service organizations, and has served on several committees at MCC.  She is a member of Collinsville United Methodist Church where she teaches the adult Sunday school class and is the lay leader and speaker.  She is married to Mark D. McPhail, former CEO of Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center. They have three married children:  David McPhail and wife, Jenny Abdo McPhail, Haley McPhail Davis and Patrick Davis, and Morgan McPhail Vitart and Matthew Vitart.  They, also, have seven grandchildren:  Logan and Kate McPhail; Grayson and Finley Davis, and Ella-Katherine, Anne-Hartley, and Mark Toxey Vitart. 

MCC Tennis Star Signs Scholarship



From School Reports

Kevin Millet, sophomore tennis player from Meridian Community College, signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his tennis career at the University of Texas Permian Basin, a NCAA Division II school in Odessa, Texas.  UTPB is part of the Heartland Conference; the team is under the leadership of Coach Steve Buck. Kevin came to Meridian CC from Brandon, MS and is the son of Mark and Jackie Millet.  He was coached by Brooks Buffington and Mark Elliott.  Kevin, a mechanical engineer major, maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA while at MCC.  He had a rigorous class load; Kevin completed Calculus 1-IV, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Engineering Physics, and Chemistry as well as other core classes.  He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a two-year National Honor Society member.  He was awarded the Sue Key Excellence in Math Award at the awards banquet held in May.   At graduation, Kevin was honored with induction to MCC’s Circle of Excellence as well as awarded one of three H. M. Ivy Scholarships to be used to continue his education.  He also was selected as a member of Who’s Who in America’s Universities and Colleges.  He was on the President’s List all four semesters at Meridian. 

As a tennis player at MCC, Kevin was the team captain for two years.  His freshman year, he played number three singles and number one doubles.  As a sophomore, Kevin played one singles and doubles.  He was the runner-up at both positions this spring at the Region XXIII/MACJC tournament.  He has competed at the NJCAA National Tennis Tournament both of his years.  As a sophomore, he and his partner, Judson Watson, were at-large selections for the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships held in Ft. Myers, Florida in October 2013.  In the last ITA rankings, Kevin was ranked number 36 in the single’s rankings.  He was awarded the ITA Region III “Player to Watch” as a freshman and the ITA Region III “Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award” in 2014. 

Kevin has been involved in community service through Phi Theta Kappa and the MCC tennis team.  He has volunteered with Special Olympics, the Salvation Army, Love’s Kitchen Canned Food Drive, Street Strut for Breast Cancer, and Samaritan’s Purse.  He has helped to teach clinics for younger players, and when at home, he works at Castlewood Tennis Center.  According to MCC head coach Wanda McPhail, “Kevin is an extraordinary young man, who is dedicated to the sport of tennis.  His work ethic is unparalleled in his desire to improve his game and the game of those on his team.  He has clearly defined goals for his life and will be successful at his future endeavors.”