St. Joseph Catholic School’s A. J. McCloud and Phillon Johnson have been named the Planters Bank Players of the Week after they both left the MAIS Class 2A state track meet with a neckful of first place medals.
McCloud won the title in the 100-meter dash, the 4X200 meter relay and the 4X100 relay. McCloud scored a whopping 44 points for his team as he also finished in second place in the 200-meter dash (behind Greenville Christian’s Eric Kingdom) and fifth place in the triple jump.
“It feels great to win these state titles because this is my senior year, McCloud said. “I was confident the whole time. During the 100 meters, once I stepped on the track I knew I was going to win.”
St. Joseph track coach John Baker said the titles were a testament to McCloud’s hard work and perseverance over the years.
“AJ has always been on our relay team, but he has always wanted to run the 100 individually. Of course, last year with COVID we didn’t have a track season and before that we had Dillon Johnson and Trey Benson who ran the 100 for us. He finally got his shot this year and he shined,” Coach Baker said.
While McCloud had been waiting years to win an individual title, Phillon Johnson’s wait did not take nearly as long.
This is Phillon Johnson’s first ever season running track after he transferred to St. Joseph once his old school, Ray Brooks High School, closed last season.
Nevertheless, Phillon Johnson, a senior, still won the state title in the high jump, the 4X200 meters and the 4X100 meters.
“I never thought I would run track, but it was really cool. I did this because I am about to graduate and wanted to try it out,” Phillon Johnson said. “My experience at St. Joseph has been great. I learned about religion and I got my grades right, and now I am about to attend Jackson State.”
Phillon Johnson and AJ McCloud weren’t the only Irish to shine at the state meet. Jerrian King and Omar Emmons were Johnson and McCloud’s teammates on the sprint relay events. Roury McCloyn won first place in the shot put and Jamal Bryant finished in sixth place in the 800 meters.
As a team, St. Joe finished in third place at the event behind state champion Centreville.
“This sport is real tough for us because we don’t have a track on our campus,” Coach Baker said. “We don’t have the facilities to throw the discus or do the high jump and long jump. Our kids basically have to practice whenever they can and wherever they can, but it is usually at the track meet before they get there.”