By Gene Phelps
HICKORY FLAT – Michael Seger figured it would take the perfect race for Hickory Flat to win last season’s MHSAA Class 1A boys cross country state championship.
Perfection is what his Rebels delivered that day at Mississippi College’s Choctaw Trails in Clinton.
“Most of my kids improved a minute to a minute-and-a-half on their times,” Seger said. “It gave us the chance to slip in the door and win. We were data driven. Each kid knew the time they needed to run for us to have a shot.”
French Camp came into the race as the favorite while Mound Bayou JFK was considered an equal. According to Seger, JFK “destroyed us” by 40 points during a race on the MC course a month prior to the state championships.
“We thought our depth would give us a shot,” Seger said.
Depth prevailed, as Hickory Flat’s No. 6 runner, Jacob Gadd, broke a tie with JFK to give the Rebels’ program its first state title.
“Jacob ran the perfect race,” Seger said. “He did what we needed him to do.”
Gadd, a junior, returns to a lineup that features returners Jarvis Harris, Datarius Tables, Russell Cross and Trent Grisham, all freshmen. Randtail Isom, a junior, returns to the team after not participating last season.
“He could be a top five finisher for us,” Seger said. “We expect to be back in the mix this year. French Camp will be really good and so will JFK.
“We’re not going to be as deep, so we’re going to have to be a little better.”
On the girls side, Hickory Flat finished second to division rival Myrtle at state last season. Another division foe, Tupelo Christian Prep, was third.
“We’re in one of the toughest divisions,” Seger said.
Anna Ostrowski, who finished sixth overall at state last year, is back. Gracie Pipkin, who finished 10th overall despite running with a broken foot, also returns.