By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
This is the week every year that Mike Bain could be considered the most successful coach in Mississippi.
Bain, the winningest cross country coach in the state, will be looking to guide his Pontotoc girls and boys teams to state titles in the annual MHSAA Cross Country Championships at Mississippi College’s Choctaw Trails in Clinton.
“I think both our teams have a shot,” said Bain, whose Pontotoc cross country program has won 33 state titles. “I really think the better teams in the state, both boys and girls, run up here in the North, so we’ve had some good competition getting ready.”
The meet steps off with the Class 4A girls running at 10 a.m. Each class will run a boys and girls race, ending with the 5A boys race at 3:30 p.m. The girls race is a 4K while the boys distance is a 5K.
In 4A, the Pontotoc girls are the four-time defending champions.
“We’ve had some close meets with Corinth this season,” Bain said. “The state meet for the girls is going to be close. We’ve got to have every one of our top seven run a good race.”
Elizabeth Lunn has been one of Pontotoc’s top runners, with Corinth’s Emma Knight and Lafayette’s Rachel Starnes expected to challenge for individual honors.
In 4A boys, St. Stanislaus interrupted a three-year title reign by Pontotoc, and Bain feels his squad wants the trophy back.
“Our boys have been a surprise this year,” Bain said. “Our top four runners have had a great year, and I feel a little bit better about our situation with the way the team has run of late.”
In 5A, Saltillo is the defending champion for both boys and girls. The Saltillo and Oxford boys are favored in that event, with the Saltillo and Pearl girls favorites there.
Ocean Springs swept the 6A titles a season ago, but both Tupelo teams look to be in a strong position to contend.
Also from the area, New Site in 2A and Tupelo Christian in 1A are defending girls champs, with East Union in 2A defending boys champs. The Mooreville girls could make a strong showing in 3A.
Cross country state meet
(Saturday in Clinton)
10 a.m. 4A Girls
10:30 a.m. 4A Boys
11 a.m. 3A Girls
11:30 a.m. 3A Boys
Noon 2A Girls
12:30 p.m. 2A Boys
1 p.m. 1A Girls
1:30 p.m. 1A Boys
2 p.m. 6A Girls
2:30 p.m. 6A Boys
3 p.m. 5A Girls
3:30 p.m. 5A Boys