By Jonathan Wise
The Cougar cross country program hosted its South Pontotoc Invite meet this past Saturday. The event, which always takes a large amount of time and effort to orchestrate, went very smoothly, according to first-year head coach Nathan Young.
"It ended up being a great day," Young said. "There is no way we could have done it without our parents. They have been out there working on the course. We built a bridge, worked on the trails and filled in mudholes. We are very thankful for their hard work and helping everything go smoothly."
South hosted a total of nine teams and some of the best teams in North Mississippi, including 6A powerhouse Tupelo and 4A Pontotoc and Corinth. The South teams held their own, however. The varsity boys squad finished sixth overall, with Josh Bland again leading the way with a 16th place, 18:55 5k run.
"Josh had a phenomenal race and had his fastest time," Young said. "It's great when you can do that on your own course."
Rounding out the Cougar top five was Drew Roye, Eric Garcia, Logan Rainwater and Austin Rainwater. Barrett Griggs and Lane Williamson also competed in the varsity race.
"It was good to have Drew back this week and he did very well," Young said. "Eric stepped up for us too. Austin was hurt and that negatively affected his time."
The girls team finished with an average time of 18:55. Anna Bailey came in 27th with a time of 18:08, followed closely by Judith Mills (32nd- 18:17). Mattie Mills, Kayleigh Sims, and Nikki Waldo were the rest of the all-important top five. Also competing were Shelby Holloway, Kaylee Fooshee, and Victoria Fuqua.
"Anna led the group like she has all year," Young said. "Judith Mills really stepped up and had an excellent race, and Mattie Mills and Kaleigh Sims had good days. (Eighth grader) Nikki Waldo ran well again and was our fifth runner. All in all, I thought we did extremely in a strong field of runners.
"They have all just gotten better and better each week, and I am really looking forward to seeing what they can do when we get to division and the state meet."
Vikings getting better
The North Pontotoc Vikings also competed in their rival's meet, and coach Tabitha Quillian’s squad continued to work toward rounding into peak form by the division races. The boys were led again by Josh Tutor, who turned a 19:13, good enough for 21st overall. He was followed by Hunter Burleson, Austin Reeder, Justin Ferguson, Dawson McCord, and Josh McCord.
North's lone runner, Constance Gapp, ran a 19:43 in the varsity girls 4k. In the junior high races, Jake Reeder, Clay Matthews, Anakin McCord and J.D. Burleson all finished in the top 20, while Abigail Boyd was the top runner for the girls.