By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – Lynn Holland thought he had the points counted correctly Saturday, but he wasn’t sure.
When Tupelo Christian Prep’s cross country coach finally heard the official results – the Lady Eagles had won the Class 1A state cross country championship – he was overjoyed.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I thought we had an outside shot. Everything had to fall right. All five of my runners ran very solid.”
TCPS – powered by senior Haley Page’s third-place finish in 17 minutes, 8 seconds on the 4K Mississippi College course – scored 55 points to edge Northeast Mississippi rivals West Union and Myrtle in the field of 11 teams.
The state title is the first for the school in any team sport.
“This is a really good team,” said Page who finished third overall as a seventh grader on Tupelo High’s 2007 state championship team. “We all pushed each other today.”
Also for TCPS, Emma Woolhouse was fourth in 17:12 and Madison Laney 12th in 18:06.
The TCPS boys placed third overall for their highest state meet finish.
Myrtle eighth grader Kitana High won the individual championship in 16:30.
Saltillo’s boys and girls won the 5A championship for the first time in the same season.
Led by seniors Alyssa Kelley and Claire Cash, the Lady Tigers scored 31 points for the program’s fifth consecutive championship.
“I have four rings,” said Kelley, who was second in 16:25. “I’ve got the whole hand now.”
Saltillo’s boys won the title after finishing second for four straight seasons. Ken Gassaway, a freshman, was third in 17:20 and Lance Crabtree, a sophomore, sixth in 17:31.
Starkville’s Kate Mattox, 14:49, and Joseph MacGown, 16:49 in a 5K, won the individual state titles.
New Site’s girls won their first state championship, beating area rival Hickory Flat by seven points – 45 to 52.
However, Hickory Flat’s Gracie Pipkin, 16:45.3, edged New Site’s Madison Pharr, 16:45.7, for the individual title.
“(Pharr) passed me at the end and beat me at the division meet last week in New Albany,” said Pipkin, a seventh grader. “When she passed me today, I passed her back.”
East Union’s boys captured the state championship behind Joey Pace, Zach Rowan and Cody Dillard.
“I knew if we ran our hearts out, we could finish first,” coach Nathan McLellen said.
Pontotoc’s girls won their fifth straight state title, the 33rd overall for head coach Mike Bain.
“I’m really proud I got to see this one,” said Bain, who underwent heart surgery this summer.
Lafayette’s Peyton Hamann won the individual championship in 15:28.
Pontotoc’s boys finished second while Brayden Timmons was third overall in 17:22.