State Meet Stories: Senatobia Pulls off the Upset

Senatobia's Performance

Throughout the regular season, Senatobia's boy's team were an underdog team, always competing and placing pretty well overall, earning themselves a plethora of 3rd and 4th place finishes. This tradition of running strong and competitively has been infused in the program for the past few years, winning the 2020 3A Boys Cross Country State Championship with a near-perfect score of 23 points. For any team to perform so well at the state level is impressive beyond belief. However, Senatobia moved up into the 4A division this year, meaning that the competition would become much more competitive and would take a lot more to win the state title back to back. This makes Senatobia's performance at the state meet even more impressive, considering they won their first 4A state title the first year they were entered into it.

In the 4A boys' state race, there were other highly competitive teams that were also looking for that state title. Teams such as Corinth High School and Pontotoc High School were in the mix for either a state-winning or runner-up trophy. In fact, Corinth was the favorite to win heading into the race by a landslide, having had a very successful season this past cross country season. With both Corinth and Pontotoc having had solid seasons and beating Senatobia time and time again throughout the regular season, on paper it was safe to say that they would run home with the top two placements and Senatobia would not be in the picture. However, the strategy that Senatobia set out to accomplish worked in their favor, and that strategy is one that is common throughout cross country: marking up against your targeted competition.

In order for Senatobia to pull the upset, they had to beat specific runners from both Corinth and Pontotoc's top 5 spreads. For Pontotoc, their standout runner was senior Cooper Parmer, who won the 4A individual state title with a time of 16:12.93. Corinth also had their standout runner: junior Parker LeGoff, who was runner up behind Parmer with a time of 16:29.76. These two runners both ran phenomenal races and had very solid, competitive seasons, meaning that Senatobia's best shot to win would be to target both Corinth and Pontotoc's 2-5 spread. Pontotoc had their top three scorers place above Senatobia's top scorer Austin Winstead, with their number two and three runners both placing sixth and seventh place overall, just a few seconds faster than Winstead. However, Senatobia was able to put their top 5 in front of Pontotoc's fourth and fifth runners, allowing for Senatobia to leapfrog ahead of them.

At this point, the only team that was left to beat was Corinth, whose entire 1-7 spread placed in the top twenty-six. Right behind LeGoff, the Tomahawks had a very strong 2-5 spread, who all ran right at or below sub 18. With how Pontotoc placed in the field, this meant that Senatobia had to have at least their top four be in front of Corinth's number two, a feat that would be difficult to accomplish, especially with the initial seed times that Senatobia was coming in with. However, Senatobia was able to do the unthinkable, placing their top four in the top ten (seventh through tenth overall) right in front of Corinth's 2-4 spread, who placed eleventh through thirteenth overall individually. If you think that this was a close competition, it gets even closer. Looking at the times ran, Senatobia's 2-4 spread ran within just two seconds apart from each other in the 17:44-17:46 range. Even so, Corinth's 2-4 spread were right on Senatobia's tail, with their spread also being just two seconds apart from each other in the 17:46-17:48 range. Combining these two results together means that there was only a four-second difference between these six runners, all of which placed just milliseconds apart from each other. As a result, this meant that Senatobia pulled off the upset and was taking home their first-ever 4A state title in their program's history.

Even though Senatobia did pull off the amazing upset, it was not given to them easily by any means. Corinth and Pontotoc both ran phenomenally and gave it their all when it mattered most: at the state meet. Shoutout to both teams for both having excellent seasons this past cross country season. The future and competition of 4A will only become better and better, and it will be exciting to see what these teams will be able to accomplish next year and in the years to come.