5K PR: 16:13
Classification: MHSAA 2A
2021 ranking: Not ranked
Accolades: 2021-22 MHSAA 3A Cross Country, 1600m, 3200m State Champion | Top-10 finisher at Watson | 9th place at 2021 Mississippi XC Meet of Champions | nine total wins in 2021
Just squeaking into the Preseason All-MileSplit Mississippi team is the three-time state champion out of Walnut High School, Gabe McElwain.
McElwain had a phenomenal 2021 cross country season, dropping a total of one minute and 48 seconds off of his 5K PR from 2020 to 2021, and going from placing 16th at the state meet in 2020 to winning by over a minute in 2021.
We knew McElwain was the real deal whenever he ran 16:13 to place ninth at the 2021 Watson High School Meet, coming across the line as the sixth Mississippi prep in the race.
McElwain is setting some goals for his senior season, and will surely be chasing that sub-16 mark, as well as another state title to add to his resume.
6. William Fugate | Madison St. Joseph HS
5K PR: 16:00
Classification: MAIS 5A
2021 Ranking: Not Ranked
Accolades: 2021 MAIS 5A Cross Country Champion | 2020 MHSAA 2A Cross Country Champion
Slotting in just in front of McElwain is one the of the best distance runners in the MAIS and the No. 3 returner based on 5K PR's, and that is William Fugate of Madison St. Joseph.
Fugate was one of the most consistent cross country runners in the state in 2021, snagging three wins and numerous Top 5 finishes, as well as running very well at the 2021 Watson High School Meet and 2021 Garmin RunningLane Championships.
At RunningLane, Fugate ran 16:00.04, missing the sub-16 5k barrier by a mere 0.05 seconds, finishing as the No. 2 sophomore for the year and the No. 4 sophomore in state history.
We can expect Fugate to chase after that sub-16 5k barrier this season, as well as to try and add another state title to his resume.
Stay tuned for No. 4 and 5 next week!