Tupelo Christian Prep stuck a “Take Notice” pin in the state cross country map last season when it won the MHSAA Class 1A girls championship at Mississippi College’s Choctaw Trails.
Lady Eagles coach Lynn Holland welcomes back all but one of his runners from that title team.
“We feel really good, but we’ve got a big challenge ahead of us,” he said. “It’s going to be very competitive, but I think we’ve got a good shot at it.”
Emma Woolhouse, a freshman, returns after a fourth-place overall finish last season at the state meet. Eighth grader Madison Laney, who placed 12th, returns.
They will be joined by senior Mary Cockrell, junior Alli Maloney and eighth graders Abby Hanby and Rebecca Talton.
Holland expects Myrtle, West Union and last year’s 2A runner-up, Hickory Flat, to challenge his girls team.
“Hickory Flat moved down and they’re going to be tough,” he said.
The TCPS boys, who finished third in the state finals, graduated four runners.
Cade Luedtke, a senior, who finished 11th overall leads the returning runners. He is joined by freshmen B.J. Simmons and Luke Williams.
The Lady Eagles and Eagles open their season Saturday by hosting the 21-team TCPS Invitational on campus. The meet will feature seven defending state champions – French Camp (1A boys), New Site (2A girls), East Union (2A boys), Pontotoc (4A girls), Saltillo (5A girls and boys) and TCPS (1A girls). Tupelo and Starkville, two 6A powers, are also entered.
The format for the meet doesn’t call for team scoring. It’s strictly an individual scoring meet with all classifications competing in the same race – girls 4K and boys 5K.
Holland is proud of his program’s 1.2-mile on-campus course.
“I think it’s the most challenging course in the state,” he said.
The course’s hills make it a challenge for runners, especially early in the season and early in training, Holland notes.
“Tupelo’s Andrew White ran a good time (16:59) last year, but generally it’s a tough, anti-fast course. You’re not going to see particularly fast times.”