Brandon Shields, Jackson Sun Published 1:09 p.m. CT June 11, 2019
Davon Demoss is a graduate Jackson-Madison County Schools System, more specifically, Madison Academic.
He just finished up a stellar college career competing in track and field at the University of Memphis, breaking school records recording a 10.05-second time in the 100-meter sprint and also being a part of the Tigers’ 4X100-meter relay team. He also made school history being the first athlete in Memphis history to make All-American in outdoor and indoor track events.
Demoss’ performance is just one in a long line of track athletes from Jackson.
Madison, whose cross country program in the fall is typically among the top programs in the state, has had a number of long-distance runners do well at Middle Tennessee State University’s track complex on the final two days of Spring Fling.
Desmond Maclin just graduated from the University of Tennessee, sprinting for the Vols after winning numerous state championships as a sprinter and relay runner at Jackson-Central Merry in its final years of existence. He and Jaylen Marshall behind him were the athletic bright spots as JCM’s demise became more and more eminent leading up to its closing in 2016.
After JCM closed, Liberty picked up the proverbial baton to represent JMCSS well in the state track and field competition in Spring Fling as Rodney Castille won championships in hurdles events, and relay teams he was a part of competed and won championships also.
Then the last four years have seen South Side get into the act as Makayla Transou (long jump) and Kaeli Sain (sprinting) have each played well at the state track meet in recent years.
All of these younger athletes are following in the footsteps of older athletes who’d laid the foundation for a strong legacy to live up to and carry on, but of course, the most notable person among them is Jabari Greer.
Before Greer became a household name as a Super Bowl winner, he was a two-sport athlete at South Side and Tennessee. After playing football in the fall, he ran hurdles in the fall for South Side and won state championships. He was also an All-SEC performer for the Vols’ track and field program too.
All of that happened because of the dedication he showed and the work he put in with hurdles he borrowed from his coach that he set up in the church parking lot across from his house because there was no room to run at the school.
Transou became a better long jumper because she’d go to local parks that had mulch poured around equipment and would jump in that.
Sain, whose mother works at South Side, would train at the school when needed by sprinting down the halls while her mother was at work when class was not in session.
With the exception of Liberty, none of these schools have quality – if any – track facilities on campus to work with.
We’ve had multiple columns written about how a school district the size of JMCSS has no track facilities is a shame. We’ve had other stories look into the cost and possibility of the construction of a facility based on available resources within the district’s budget.
Now’s the time to reach out to a new possible source for funds for the facility: The community that is Jackson and Madison County.
Look at what’s been going on around rural West Tennessee in recent years. Dyersburg has had an artificial turf field for football and soccer since the stadium was renovated in early 2014, and my guess is the coaches and support crew for both programs are glad field maintenance is something they don’t have to deal with nearly as much anymore.
The same thing can probably be said about Huntingdon. Head football coach Eric Swenson and his staff stopped spending many hours on a piece of ground they played on maybe eight times a year after the Mustangs put in a turf field and four-lane track two years ago.
Jackson Christian did the same and has since allowed other schools to play games on their field during weekends where fields are wet all over the region.
University School of Jackson is projected to have turf this fall.
Jackson is by far the largest city between Nashville and Memphis with businesses that have a national brand and many others who have a regional reach that could easily make something like this happen. If the town of Huntingdon and all 4,000 of its citizens can put together a turf field and track, surely the 70,000 living in Jackson can make it happen with a regulation track facility that could host meets instead of sending teams to Dyersburg, Union City, USJ or Memphis for every meet.
Let’s see if the current Board can agree on something big besides the fact education savings accounts aren’t good for the district and get behind this. The outgoing superintendent, Eric Jones, made this part of the 10-year capital plan that’s been debated for the last two years, but after he got push back in the early days, he put it on the back-burner to maybe be accomplished in Year 8 or 9.
Academics are turning around. The County and City are on board with getting a new JCM and Madison built. Things will hopefully get rolling quickly with the new Pope in the north once they decide on a piece of land to build it.
Can we get behind the athletes of Jackson to see them excel even more than they are? Look at what they’re doing without adequate facilities.
How many more athletes could potentially pay for college with a scholarship? How many athletes might be willing to attend in the district if they see the new facilities available to them?
These are questions that can be answered now, and they should be.
Brandon Shields is the editor of The Jackson Sun. Reach him at email@example.com or at 731-425-9751. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.
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