By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
Since cross country became an official high school sport in Mississippi in 1978, Tupelo High School teams have set the bar quite high.
Not many schools can rival 31 state championships captured by the Golden Wave boys and girls teams.
Tupelo is hitting the ground running with its 2012 schedule, already having squeezed in two events. On Saturday, they will run in the Memphis Twilight event.
“We didn’t lose anyone in the top 12 from last year,” said girls coach Anna Sloan. “We have a good group of seniors, and we’re running well.”
When talking about the current group of Lady Wave runners, Christina Daniels draws a significant portion of the interest. The sophomore is the defending 6A champion, but has missed Tupelo’s first two events recovering from phenomena, a side effect from an illness.
“It’s been a little bit of a setback for her, but she’s the most competitive runner we have,” said Sloan, who expects Daniels to compete Saturday after missing three to four weeks. “My job is to not rush her back too soon.
“Ultimately, the most important race is Nov. 10 (the State Meet).”
The Lady Wave has won 11 consecutive state titles.
Tupelo is far from just a one-girl team, with seniors Madison Nash, Callie Watson and Brianna Weatherford, junior Sabrina Hudgins, and sophomore Mika Takahashi as just a few of the impact runners.
Sloan looks for her team to be tested in regional meets in Memphis, Pensacola, and Alabama, as well as the local events.
“The best thing about running around Tupelo, is that Pontotoc is right next door,” said Sloan of the three-time 4A champ.
BOYS JUST AS STRONG
The Golden Wave boys, led by junior Andrew White, have won 10 state titles in the last 11 seasons.
“He’s already running as well as he was at this point last season,” boys coach Jonathan Begnaud said of White, who ran last season’s state meet with a broken toe.
“Track season was really tough, and he had to take his lumps because he couldn’t put in all the preparation he needed to. I look for him to make great strides this season.”
The Wave will also see sophomore Darnell Collier, junior Michael Robinson, senior Eli Buford, freshman Max Lawson, sophomore Anthony Thompson, and junior Mako Dijkwel as some of the contributors.