Epic girls battle highlights season-opening cross country meet

Pontotoc’s Nathan Tidwell, the boys winner, nears the finish line at the TCPS Invitational. (Lauren Wood)

Pontotoc’s Nathan Tidwell, the boys winner, nears the finish line at the TCPS Invitational. (Lauren Wood)

By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal

BELDEN – Some near stifling humidity might have been the winner, but Starkville’s Kate Mattox and Tupelo’s Christina Daniels put on a pretty good show Saturday afternoon.

In the area’s season-opening cross country meet hosted by Tupelo Christian Prep, Mattox edged Daniels by 23 seconds over the rolling hills of a 4K course.

“Christina had a good run today,” Tupelo girls head coach Anna Sloan said. “She’s in very good shape to start this season, and we want to make she stays that way.”

Mattox won in 14 minutes, 57 seconds, while Daniels clocked a 15:20, which put her 1:10 ahead of the third place runner in the event, which had no team scoring.

Tupelo did place four runners in the top 10 of the race.

‘Good race for us’
“I thought it was a good race for us,” Tupelo boys head coach Jonathan Begnaud said. “Today, we were trying to get the guys to run together.”

For Begnaud, Wave runners repeated that same theme in the boys 5K, placing five in the top 10. The race was won by Pontotoc’s Nathan Tidwell, who turned in an 18:07, with Ken Gasaway from Saltillo second in 18:16.

“This was not a bad start to the season,” said Pontotoc head coach Mike Bain, who has 33 state cross country titles to his credit. “Nathan Tidwell had a great summer, and I looked for him to get off to a great start.”

Northeast Mississippi had six area squads win state championships a season ago in cross country.

On the girls side, Saltillo won in Class 5A, Pontotoc in 4A, New Site in 2A, and TCPS in 1A. In boys, Saltillo won in 5A, and East Union in 2A.

“I was very encouraged with today,” Saltillo head coach Charles Covington said. “I know for our boys, we’ll have six or seven that will run strong this season.”

The 2013 state meet is Nov. 9 in Clinton.