By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Cross Country in Northeast Mississippi continued in stride Saturday as the Tupelo boys and Pontotoc girls claimed team honors at the Tupelo Invitational.
Hosted at Ballard Park on a challenging and sometimes twisting course, Tupelo used some of that local knowledge to claim its third straight team championship in the large-school Class 4A/5A/6A event. Tupelo scored a near-perfect 19 points, easily besting second place Pontotoc (66), third-place Oxford (70) and fourth place Saltillo (89).
“Today, some of the guys got to try some different strategies,” Tupelo boys coach Jonathan Begnaud said. “This isn’t the fastest course, but it’s challenging and wide open.”
It was also the third straight victory for Tupelo sophomore runner Andrew White, who toured the Ballard Park 5K layout in 16 minutes, 57 seconds. Freshman team mate Darnell Collier was second in 17:25, and Lucian Duchane of Oxford with third in 17:26.
Tupelo placed six runners in the Top 10, aiding its strong team score. Corey Batson was fourth, Michael Robinson was fifth, Garrett Rogers was seventh, and Caleb Russell was tenth.
The same trend held form in the large-school girls as Pontotoc ran its way to a third-straight meet title. The Warriors turned in a 38 total, besting Tupelo (53), Saltillo (72) and Oxford (80).
“They did good,” veteran Pontotoc coach Mike Bain said. “Our goal is to stay in a pack like we did today, and pull each other through.
“We’re fortunate to have that kind of tight group.”
That tight grouping included Katy McAuley in fourth, Locke Hester in fifth, Elizabeth Lunn in seventh, and Robin Shoemaker in ninth.
Individually, they were again all chasing Tupelo’s Christina Daniels, who posted a 15:27 over a 4K course in winning her third-straight race. Callie Mayo of Oxford finished second in 15:46, and Alyssa Kelley of Saltillo was third in 16:00.
In the small-school boys, French Camp (23) claimed the team honors with Rogers, Ala. (65) second. Joey Storment led French Camp with a first-place finish in 18:02, with Chris Roberts of Potts Camp second in 18:18.
And in the small-school girls event, Rogers posted a perfect score of 15 to dominate the team scoring, with Myrtle (58) second and Hickory Flat (92) third. Katie Stewart led Rogers to its perfect score with a 16:32 clocking for first place.