CLINTON • The Tupelo Christian boys and girls and the Saltillo girls continued their cross country domination with championships on Monday at the 1A/3A/5A state meet contested over the hilly and difficult Choctaw Trails course.
TCPS won the 1A boys title for the third time in four years and the girls championship for the fourth-consecutive year.
Saltillo girls are a dynasty, with a fifth-consecutive 5A title – their 10th in 11 years.
Both Tupelo Christian teams won easily, the boys with 20 points to 83 for runner-up Tremont and the girls with a 25-58 margin over second place Tremont.
But coach Greg Warnick said that doesn’t mean it was easy.
“It’s always tough. On paper, things look a certain way, but you run the race and sometimes it doesn’t go your way. Today it went our way and I’m proud of the kids. For many this is their sixth championship in cross country and track. They know how to win. They know how to dig deep and get it done.”
Tupelo Christian had both 1A individual champions, senior Brock Kelly for the boys and eighth grader Sophie Santucci for the girls.
Kelly’s time of 16:02.9 for 5,000 meters is the 12th best in the 38-year history of the meet.
His goal was 15:50, Kelly said, while adding, “I can’t be upset with 16:03.”
It’s the second year in a row that he won the event.
Santucci achieved her goal of bettering 20 minutes with a winning time of 19:57.1 in winning a high school meet for the first time.
“Training all season helps a lot and running every day,” she said.
Saltillo won the girls title but failed to repeat as boys champion, finishing second to Brookhaven 26-54.
“We come to win every time,” said coach Charles Covington of the boys’ second-place finish. “I’m not disappointed with my guys' performance at all. It would have been great if we would have won it, but we knew Brookhaven was very strong. All our guys ran to the best of their abilities.”
Saltillo’s top boys were Rustin Roberts in eighth and Emerson Mansfield ninth. Brookhaven placed five runners in the top 10.
The individual winner was Christian Belcer of East Central with a time of 15:50.6.
Saltillo girls had five of the top 10 runners, led by junior Madison Jones, second in 19:32.4, and Emma Kate White, third in 20:06.3,
Long Beach sophomore Brooklyn Biancamano was the winner for the third year in a row in 18:33.2.
While many schools have trouble finding five runners to compete as a team, Covington said he took 99 runners from his program to a recent meet at French Camp.
Covington jokingly said, “I lie a lot and tell them that it’s going to be fun, easy and not much hard work.”
He added, “We try to recruit every single kid in the school and try to keep as many of them as we can.”
Kossuth was the defending boys and girls champion, but finished second in both. In the boys race, Kossuth trailed Senatobia 27-72 and the girls were edged by St. Andrew’s 40-44.
“It’s always disappointing when you don’t win,” said coach Jackie Hill. “We have a lot of young runners, and we will be back next year.”
Kossuth’s top runners were sophomore Cooper Glidewell for the boys with a third place finish in 18:03.4 and sophomore Ava Meeks for the girls, third in 20:34.7.
The 2A/4A/6A meet, originally planned for last Saturday, will be held on Wednesday. Corinth is defending boys and girls 4A champion.