5. Maya Messenger | Ocean Springs High School
5K PR: 19:09
2021 ranking: No. 6
Classification: MHSAA 6A
Accolades: 2021 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Bronze Medalist | 2022 MHSAA 6A 1600m 4th place finisher
Slotting inside of the top 5 is the low stick out of Ocean Springs, Maya Messenger.
Messenger is one of the best up-and-coming talents, not only in MHSAA 6A, but in the entire state of Mississippi. With PRs such as 2:33 in the 800m, 5:26 in the 1600m, and 19:09 in the 5k, she can get it done at any distance from half a mile all the way up to three miles.
Messenger proved that she was a great miler, securing wins at the 2022 Gulf Coast Classic and 2022 MHSAA Region 4-6A Championships, as well as multiple top-five finishes at some very high-caliber meets, including her fourth-place finish at the 2022 MHSAA 6A Track and Field Championships.
Just a freshman, Messenger wowed all of us during her 2021 cross country campaign whenever she ran 19:09 at the 2021 Watson High School Meet, and then backed that up with a third-place finish at the 2022 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Championships, leading Ocean Springs to the team title in the process.
RESULTS: 2022 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Championships
Messenger's accolades have shown how hard it truly is just to get inside of the top five on this prestigious list.
With bundles of momentum coming off of a very successful freshman season, we can expect Messenger to go after the 19-minute 5k barrier and potentially keep climbing this list as the season progresses.
4. Riley Jackson | Hernando High School
5K PR: 19:17
2021 ranking: No. 5
Classification: MHSAA 6A
Accolades: 2021 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Runner-up | 2022 MHSAA 6A 3200m Runner-up | 2020 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Runner-up
Coming in at a strong No. 4 is another very prominent name in MHSAA 6A High School Girls distance running, and that is Riley Jackson out of Hernando High School.
With six Top-5 finishes at the state championship level, including four runner-ups, Jackson has proven that she can compete with anyone in the state of Mississippi. Although she hasn't snagged a state title just yet, she is always in the conversation, and one is potentially coming her way with her year-after-year improvement.
At the 2021 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Championships, Jackson finished runner-up over a very deep field and led a Hernando 1-2 sweep.
RESULTS: 2021 MHSAA 6A Cross Country Championships
Jackson is also coming off of a sophomore season on the track with PRs of 2:26 in the 800m, 5:28 in the 1600m, and a runner-up finish in the 3200m.
All in all, Jackson is on fire, and will surely be one to keep an eye on this season.
Stay tuned for No. 2 and 3 next week!