Nowhere to Run a Cross Country Adventure

Nowhere to Run

A story of one team’s resilience, and another’s hospitality

by: David-Paul Daigle

Anyone one involved in Cross Country in 4A knows that Pontotoc is the team to beat, year in and year out.  With that in mind, I decided to schedule a meet where I could run my team against them.  Facing them only once a year at state wasn’t good enough, I wanted my guys to be comfortable running against the favorites.  So, the South Pontotoc Invitational provided that opportunity for Saint Stanislaus’ cross country team.


I took seven of my runners north, five and a half hours, this past Friday.  We used fundraising money to book hotel rooms in Pontotoc and got a good night’s sleep.  I handed out uniforms over breakfast and we began to discuss goal times and race strategies.  I was concerned, but hopeful about the weather.  It had rained overnight and was still raining.  Upon arriving at South Pontotoc we didn’t see any signs of a meet.  I checked the email on my phone to find out that the meet was cancelled because the course was under water and the coaches had safety concerns.

While I couldn’t blame them for coming to that conclusion, I still had a problem.  Did we just waste team funds and time and come up here for nothing?  They guys were disappointed.  My first thought was just to drive south until the weather cleared, and get out and have the boys run a workout.  That wasn’t good enough.  We were off last week and desperately needed to compete.  I opened up the Milesplit app on my phone and saw that Tupelo had a meet.  I scrambled to get their coach on the phone and initially spoke to Coach Anna Sloan.  She was very friendly and did a little double checking with some other folks and told me to come on, they would get us in.


So we drove the 30 minutes or so to Tupelo and were immediately impressed with the venue.  They had bib numbers for us, a course map, and pins.  We were ready to run!  I made a list of my runners and their bib numbers and headed to the timer’s table where I met Coach Jonathan Begnaud.  I gave him my runners list so he could input their names to the timing software.  I thanked him for allowing us to run last minute and he relayed a story where he had been in a very similar situation, far away in bad weather with nowhere to run.

I’m happy to say that my boys retained their focus and had a pretty good day at the meet.  We finished 4th behind three of the best 5A and 6A schools in the state.  Five out of six of my runners ran season best times, three of them being PR’s.


Thanks to Coach Sloan and Coach Begnaud and all the wonderful folks at Tupelo High School, you helped turn a big negative into a huge positive for Rock-A-Chaw Cross Country.