Mississippi XC Weekend Preview: Regionals Begins

Regionals Begins

Written by Hollis Johnson

2021 DeSoto County Championships

Note from the State Editor: This weekend at the Desoto County Champs will be a showdown in the Delta / Memphis Metro, possibly deciding who will get that Metro winner All-State swag. 

In the boys' race, a matchup between Desoto Central, Hernando, and Lewisburg will go down for the top podium spots. Hernando's Graham Weiss comes into this race leading the competition with a time of 16:33. Southaven's Kendrick Matthews is coming in with a 17:10 and DeSoto Central's Ryan Williams and Gavin Brown right behind, both clocking 17:14 and 17:22, respectively. These top runners are all heading into this meet with momentum after coming off of personal bests in their previous races. DeSoto, Hernando, and Lewisburg have all qualified for the All-State meet that will be held on November 13 at Choctaw Trails.

Note from the State Editor: Weiss had a heck of a run at Watson last Saturday. Let's see if he carries that momentum over against some stellar competition tomorrow. 

In the girls' race, the number 1 ranked girls team in the state Hernando will be there, looking to continue their undefeated season heading into the championship season. Hernando's Jessica Cartwright comes into this race with the fastest seed time of 19:08, along with Riley Jackson coming in with a time of 19:18 and Madison McMillen with a 19:58. Lewisburg's Mary Murphy is seeded number 4 with a 20:13 and right behind her is Hernando's Delaney Hopkins with a 20:15. Both girls are knocking at the door to sub 20, making for a good matchup just before heading into the postseason.

Note from the State Editor: Expect this to be a tune-up for the Hernando girls, perhaps working on pack running and working together before heading into the post-season. 

Region 1A-1, 5A-1 Meet (Belden)

A very strong boys' Saltillo team and a very close girl's team race between Lafayette and Saltillo will be underway in Belden, highlighting the start to the championship season!

In the boys' race, Saltillo's boys' number 4 ranked squad is looking to dominate their regional race, predicted to finish with a perfect team score of 15. Individually, Saltillo's J.J. Lincoln comes in with the fastest seed time of 16:21 along with his teammate Mohammad Zaqief coming in with a time of 16:42. On top of this, Saltillo's Jace Stanley (17:02), Rustin Roberts (17:08), Parker Shannon (17:09) and Jackson Kelly (17:10) are all right on the edge of dipping below sub 17, making for good inner team action at regionals. Other names to look out for too are Tupelo Christian's Elijah Park and Lafayette's Bralen Williams, who will be leading their teams in this race / and for Park's, leading his respective region.

In the girls' race, a tough matchup between Saltillo and Lafayette is going to go down, with Lafayette looking to qualify for the All-State meet. Lafayette's freshman Maine Lund (20:06) and Mia Dawson (20:06) along with Saltillo's Mia Card (20:11) will be duking it out for a great race and podium positioning. Other names to watch out for in this race include Saltillo's Anna Caroline Crouch (20:23) and Abby Covington (20:32), as well as Tupelo Christian's Anna Bishop Powell in her region.

Note from the State Editor: Although the virtual meet score seems very close, I would expect Saltillo to win based on their depth, and it won't be too far of a scoring spread because it is such a small meet. Lund and Dawson going 1-2 would help Lafayette out a lot though, and they could perhaps pull off the upset. 

French Camp Classic

Another highly talented Tupelo boys' team and a battle for the girls' team race between Tupelo and French Camp is shaping up to be a good race to end the regular season off and to sharpen up before the postseason.

In the boys' race, Tupelo is set to dominate, being ranked number 5 in the state of Mississippi. Choctaw Central is coming into this race being a clear second-place finisher. For individual standings, Tupelo's Jaheim Bridges is coming into this race setting the tone with a seed time of 15:57, along with his teammates Taylor Brown and Robert Hooper both clocking in times of 16:14 and 17:01. Other names to highlight include Neshoba Central's Jackson Stroud (17:30), Tupelo's Bryce Weaver (17:50), and Harrison Wampler (17:58) as well as Kosciusko's Jorge Orduna (17:58).

Note from the State Editor: Similar to the Hernando girl's, expect Bridges and Brown to simply use this as a tune-up as their stacked region race is a mere 4 days later. They could perhaps try and work with Hooper, the 400m runner (might have to bring him up to the 800m after this XC Season) and bring him under 17 minutes for the 5k. 

In the girls' race, a close competition for first place between Tupelo and French Camp is about to go down, with Choctaw Central looking to place as a strong third-place team. Tupelo's freshman phenom Brookelyn Morgan is looking to break 19, clocking in at 19:00 at Watson last weekend. Other names to watch out for are French Camp's freshman Lucy Littlejohn looking to break 20, seeded with a time of 20:04, and Taylor Benoit, coming into this race with a time of 20:41.

Note from the State Editor: French Camp has already beaten one MHSAA 6A Team in Clinton, and this would be another strong win if they pulled off beating Tupelo. They are indeed undefeated this season, as well as one of the only small schools to automatically qualify for All-State, and I know they will want to keep that non-blemished record going.