By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
It is easy to say Mike Bain knows a thing or two about running. A total of 33 state championships in cross country with the Pontotoc Warriors should clarify that.
So when the veteran coach indicates that he has never done something so big, it should catch your attention.
Bain and the Warriors will be hosting at least 38 teams Saturday for the Pontotoc Invitational at Cherry Creek Orchard.
“This is the biggest meet we’ve ever hosted,” Bain said. “There will be about 1,200 runners registered.
“It will be a flat and all-grass course.”
The competition begins at 9 a.m. with two varsity girls events, followed by two varsity boys events, and concluding with two junior high races.
“There was a time when every race in this area was basically a road race,” said Bain, who coached Pontotoc in the first sanctioned cross country state meet back in 1978. “We’re seeing people more and more going to all grass and that’s important, because the state meet course is all grass.”
Pontotoc team update
Early in the 2013 season, the Pontotoc girls have the look of a defending Class 4A state champion. Pontotoc has all seven of its top runners back from last season: Elizabeth Lunn (soph.), Ashton Davis (fr.), Robin Shoemaker (sr.), Locke Hester (soph.), Lauren Kolhler (soph.), Abby Tidwell (soph.), and Katie McAuley (sr.).
“We’re in a much better situation than last year because our depth goes beyond our top seven,” Bain said. “All these girls are competitive with each other and that pays off on Saturdays.
“We have a shot at the title, but it is very competitive just in this area. Corinth has good runners, Lafayette has good runners. What we’ve had going is our depth.”
The Pontotoc boys are coming off a second place finish at state a year ago, with four of the their top seven returning in the form of Nathan Tidwell (sr.), Chris Grissom (jr.), Jacob Ferguson (jr.) and Grayson Griffth (soph.).
“We just don’t have the depth, but I can say we have a shot,” Bain said. “We’re going to be one of the better teams in 4A.”