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Holmes, Walker enjoy their time Down Under as All-Stars

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
July 25, 2001
While they didn't get to see the Crocodile Hunter of television fame, Austin Holmes, Jennifer Walker, and Harrison Harris did have a once-in-a-lifetime experience earlier this summer when they went to Australia for the Down Under Bowl.
The bowl is actually a series of football games, Holmes said. Groups of all-star teams from four different states are invited for a week at the time to the Gold Coast and play two games apiece while they're Down Under in an effort to educate the Australians about American football.
Holmes, a 2001 graduate of Lamar School, was one of 35 players selected for Mississippi's team.
Holmes needed little time to decide if he would go when asked.
Holmes, who was the punter and kicker for the Mississippians, will be playing at Mississippi College this fall.
The Magnolia staters opened with a 14-7 win over Iowa on a Wednesday.
Then, for the first time since Mississippi began participating in the annual event four years ago, the Magnolia State boys lost.
Holmes said there seemed to be some shady dealings going on, however. Mississippi was supposed to play the winner of the North Dakota-South Dakota game on a Saturday, three days after the first game. The Mississippians wound up playing a combined team of the two Dakotas, plus about nine Australians, and lost 6-3.
Following the games, the team had three days in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As for Steve Irwin, also known as the Crocodile Hunter, one group went to see him, but was unable to do so.
While Holmes was the only Meridian area player to make the team, Walker, a 2001 graduate of Neshoba Central who will be cheerleading at East Central Community College this fall, was picked as a cheerleader for the Mississippi team.
Other days were spent at a water park and an amusement park.
Harris, a former Meridianite who now lives in Gosnell, Ark., was selected for the event as a member of the Arkansas squad, but did not play the same week that Holmes and Walker attended.
Harris is a 2001 graduate of Gosnell High School. He is the son of Nancy Gartrell Hanson, formerly of Meridian, and Bill Harris of Newton. Grandparents are George and Dot Gartrell and Tennie Mae Godwin, all of Meridian.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.