Layla Warren at the 2020 MC Watson Invitational
The first meet of the long-awaited 2021 cross country season is finally here, and is taking place in Mendenhall, MS at the 'Early Bird 2-miler' at Simpson Academy!! (The actual location of the meet is at Neely Farms) The boys and girls competing this weekend will set the bar for the rest of the competition across the state in this low-key, season-opener 2 mile. This weekend, all those summer miles and early morning workouts will finally start to pay off. There are currently 232 kids registered to race this weekend. Over the next few pages, we will preview some of the potential winners of the individual, as well as the team races, and some key things to look out for in Mendenhall this weekend. So, without further ado, click through the next pages to see who and what to watch out for at the Early Bird 2-miler!
Going in order, the first race of the morning is the varsity girls 2-mile. In that race, we will have MileSplit Mississippi Honorable Mention Layla Warren open up her season on her home turf. Warren had an impressive track season which included 2 state titles in the 1600m and 3200m in MSAIS 4A( Now 5A). Warren also has the fastest 5k PR in the field by over 45 seconds with a 19:38. All of these accomplishments in the past can tell us that Warren will be looking to open up her season with a win at the Early Bird 2-miler.
It should be noted, though, that Warren is actually not the top returner to this race from last year. That would belong to Warren's teammate Emma Overstreet, who placed 2nd at this meet 1 year ago. Overstreet had 2 wins last cross country season, as well as a 5th place, finish at the MSAIS 4A State Meet in cross country. Overstreet, along with notable freshman Charlee Brees Franks from Columbia Academy and 2020 MAIS 1A State Champion Alex Lee will have some names to look out for and will be very exciting to see how they open up their season.
The varsity girls team race is stacking up to be yet another 'shoot-out' between long-time rivals Simpson Academy and Columbia. On paper, Simpson has a fantastic low stick in Warren who will most likely score 1 point, and could potentially put 4 in the top 10. There is a somewhat alarming gap between their 4th and 5th runner, but 4 in the top 10 is hard to beat.