Big day: Area teams run to nine championships

CLINTON – Pearl’s boys and the girls from St. Patrick and Our Lady Academy won state championships Saturday at the MHSAA cross country meet.
Teams from Northeast Mississippi captured the other nine at Mississippi College’s Choctaw Trails.
Saltillo (5A girls), Pontotoc (4A boys, girls), Kossuth (3A boys), East Union (2A boys), Myrtle (1A boys, girls) joined Tupelo, which pulled off a 6A sweep.
Six runners from the area won individual titles.
Pontotoc coach Mike Bain saw his boys and girls teams give him a state’s best 27th and 28th state titles.
“It’s just as exciting now as it’s ever been,” said Bain, who is in his 32nd season. “When you get close to the end, everything’s special.”
On the boys side, Luke Hatcher won the title in 17 minutes, 43 seconds while teammate Alex Russell crossed in 17:50 for second place.
“We knew we had the ability to win,” Hatcher said. “Everybody ran amazing today. We ran like champions.”
Pontotoc scored 31 points to top Lafayette County, which had 91, and a field of 20 teams.
Whitney Ray’s third-place finish in 16:20 paced the Lady Warriors who scored 37 points to lead a 16-team field.
Pass Christian’s Cory McGee won her record fifth state title with a 14:45 clocking.
Kossuth, Solis cruise
- Kossuth defeated rival Corinth, the defending state champion, to capture the 3A boys state championship with 21 points to the Warriors’ 58.
“They ran today,” an excited Aggies coach Chris Butler said. “I thought it would be a dogfight with Corinth. This is what we’ve worked so hard for.”
Mooreville’s Jesus Solis, however, won the individual title with a 17:25 clocking. He beat Kossuth’s Casey Parks, Nick Thompson, Kyle Suitor and Connor Martin, who grabbed the second through fifth spots.
“I ran with Casey (Parks) until the last mile, then I sprinted,” Solis said. “It worked. My tank was only half empty.”
Corinth’s Lauren Foropoulos won the girls’ 3A title in 15:55.
Saltillo girls rule
- Charles Covington’s Lady Tigers didn’t just win the 5A state title they crushed the competition with 19 points – 15 is perfect. Pearl was second with 50 points in the 12-team field.
Lealand Flanagan won the individual title in 16:14. Alyssa Kelley in 16:27 and Erin Covington in 16:31 gave Saltillo a 1-2-3 finish.
“We ran a good race,” Flanagan said. “We’ve run strong together every race, but we’ve never had the top three.”
Covington expected Flanagan to contend for a state title.
“What I didn’t expect was the 2-3,” he said. “That finish set the tone for us. I thought we could win if we ran hard. They’ve been training hard since May … it showed.”
More championships
- Myrtle swept the 1A team championships, winning the girls with 32 points and the boys with 29 points.
However, West Union won the individual titles with Amber Maxey winning in 16:56 and Devin Brock rolling in 18:18.
“Last year I finished second,” Brock said. “I wanted to win this year.”
For Myrtle’s boys, Justin Pickens, Bryan Cook, Heriah Dodson and Will Gregory took second through fifth place.
On the girls side, Aimee Walker, Halle Knowles and Samatha Shettles finished behind West Union’s Maxey.
In Class 2A, East Union scored 35 points to beat its closest rival, J.Z. George with 82 and a field of seven.
Jose Valle’s third-place time of 19:11 paced the Urchins. Drew Bruce and Brett Rakestraw placed sixth and seventh for the champs.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal