Saints Place 2nd and 3rd Cross Country State Championship

The girls cross country team knew going into state that they had an uphill battle. Their rival Kossuth had been working hard to get times down all season but had not gone head to head with the Saints. Going into the state meet, Kossuth was beating the Saints by 15 points on paper. While pressure was on freshman Emily Ireland to defend her State Championship title from last year, she was already seeded first in the rankings. She was not in a position to help the team gain any points. The points would have to come from other team members. Ultimately, Emily was able to defend her title and run her best race of the season with a 20:01.
A huge upset to Kossuth came from 8th grader Kate Simms who ran 32 seconds better than her best time ever to come in second overall. Her time of 20:08 was able to reduce Kossuth's point advantage by 4 points. Sophomore Carol Rappai was 3rd for the Saints and ran 35 seconds better than her best time. 7th grader and rising star Caitlyn Penton was the fourth finisher for the Saints while junior Isabella Flores was the final scoring member of the team. Both fought hard up the final hill and, between the two of them, were able to considerably reduce Kossuth's advantage. In the end, the girls finished two points behind Kossuth and with a team average time difference of just one second. 7th grader India Mitchell is another rising star and was slated to be the 5th runner for the team, but was unable to attend the race on Saturday.
Overall, it was a tough fight, however, all scoring members will be returning next year to take on Kossuth again. "I’m beyond proud of my team and these girls this season," said senior captain Xenia Monton. "We’ve not only achieved many PR’s and placed top at multiple races, but we’ve also bonded with each other on such a close and personal level."

The boys were led by senior Yahya Naveed, with the remaining six runners being junior Joshua Harvel, sophomores Burkitt Anderson, Nehemiah Thompson, and Ian Robinson, freshman Liam Perry, and 8th grader Res Ishee. The Saints, on paper, were expected to be 5th behind Senatobia, Kossuth, Alcorn Central, and Winona. However, the five scoring members of the team (in order: Burkitt, Nehemiah, Yahya, Joshua, and Res) all had personal records with an average race time of 20 minutes and 26 seconds leading to the team placing 3rd. "In a season that many doubted would even transpire, these runners, and the runners who were not able to run the state meet, fought hard and worked towards this end goal when they could have easily given up as they looked towards the years ahead," said senior captain Yahya Naveed. "I am really proud of these guys, and all of it would not have been possible without Coach Chadwick continuing to push us through the finish."
Burkitt was the top runner for the team with a time of 19:57 for the 3.1 mile race. The pivotal upset to Alcorn Central came from Nehemiah, Yahya, and Joshua who raced an Alcorn runner up the final hill to beat him in the final stretch to beat Alcorn Central by just 4 points. When asked about the final sprint, Joshua Harvel credited Res Ishee for the motivation. The young 8th grader led Joshua in the race up until the final quarter mile and cheered for him to sprint from behind to push the other saints up the hill to victory. With Senatobia moving to 4A next year, the team has set its sights on Kossuth to take back the 3A Championship position in 2021.
For photos from the state meet, click here.

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