CLINTON – The Oxford Chargers, widely believed to be the best unit in the history of the school, saved their best for when it mattered most Saturday morning. <>
The Chargers won their second straight MHSAA Class 5A Boys Cross Country state title at Mississippi College’s Choctaw Trails, defeating two of their nemeses, Pearl and Saltillo, in the process.
The Chargers had five runners earn MHSAA Class 5A All-State distinctions, with senior Tristan Orman leading the way with a second-place finish as an individual, a year after he won the overall title. Orman called the moment “bittersweet,” because while it was great to win, it was disappointing that it was his final race, He is one of three seniors on the team, joining Pruitt Griffin and Matthew Ueleke in that company.
“We talked this morning that this would be the last time that this same group would put on a jersey and run all together,” Orman said. “Some guys will be back, but some won’t. That’s why it is bittersweet. I was a little more nervous than most other races because it was my last one.”
Orman said the team knew what they had to do in order to win, and he felt like the underclassmen rose to the occasion to help the seniors go out with a bang.
“This was the best team to ever come through Oxford High School for cross country,” Orman said. “It has a funny way of working out that we had our best group coming through and Pearl had their best group, and Saltillo has their best group, which makes it harder to win.”
Chris Patton, the head coach, and Chris Bush, the co-head coach, both ran for Oxford and both felt like the 2014 team was very special.
“In the past 14 years that I’ve been around the programs, as a runner for track and coaching now, I’m going to say this is the best cross country team that we have had, or at least since 2000,” Patton said.
“I’m with Coach Patton that this is the strongest team we’ve had,” Bush added. “We lose some key people, but this this team is young. We return five strong runners and if they grown and mature like they’re supposed to, we have some more years of being able to come here and do this again.”
When the team sat down to meet as a team Friday night, Bush said the teams went from having fun to being very focused once everyone sat down to talk.
“From the meeting last night all the way up through this meet, this morning, everybody was dead-serious about what they had to come here and do today,” Bush said. “Some days people say things are hurting, well nobody came in today complained about anything. They got up, and got ready to roll today.”
With sunshine high and bright and the weather cool, but not cold, Saturday was almost perfect for Patton and Bush as the Lady Chargers finished a point behind Pearl for second in their meet. Bush recited a lesson learned from former coach Scott Kendricks that you don’t know losing in a state title until you lose by a point. Patton agreed with Bush it was almost close to perfect.
“I told the girls right after we came off the awards stage to not hold their heads down about anything and all that I asked was to give a max effort, and they did that,” Patton said. “We had a few mishaps, but things happen. Let this be a growing moment for you.”
Addie Thompson, Margaret Pepper Adams and Swayze Elliott earned MHSAA Class 5A All-State this season.
Earning the same recognition for the Chargers were Orman, Jonathan Tyler, Griffin, John Owen Yoste and Alex Thomas. Tyler, Yoste and Thomas all finished in the top 10, with Orman and Tyler finishing second and third respectively. The Chargers finished with 36 points, four points better than Pearl. The Lady Chargers finished with 42 points.