Weekend Preview: Choctaw Trails reopens

High School Boys Individual

2021 champion: Grayson Childress (Brookhaven High School) | 16:02

Meet record: Grayson Childress (Brookhaven High School) | 16:02

Course record: Christian Balcer (East Central High School) | 15:15

No. 1 seed: Bennett Ferguson (Oak Grove High School) | 16:08

The Rundown:

With a host of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana talent, The Opener is shaping up to be thus far the hottest race of the year with a loaded High School Boys field. 

Going in as the top Mississippi seed is Bennett Ferguson of Oak Grove.

Making his 2022 cross country season debut, Ferguson currently ranks as the All-Milesplit No. 4 and holds a top-notch PR of 16:09 on the grass. 

READ NEXT: 2022 HS Boys All-MileSplit Mississippi XC Teams: Edition No. 1

He has the potential to do big things this season and back up a monster track season where he went 4:32 and 9:55 in the 1600m and 3200m, respectively. 

In addition to Ferguson, Walnut High's Gabe McElwain, the All-MileSplit Mississippi XC No. 5, can potentially be a front-runner. 

Last weekend, he made his season debut by easily winning the 2022 New Albany XC Classic in a time of 16:35. 

READ NEXT: Meet recap: 2022 New Albany XC Classic

A 9:47 2-miler, McElwain could be a name to remember as he has already climbed up two places in the All-Milesplit Mississippi XC rankings in just a few short weeks.

Gabe McElwain at the 2022 RunningLane Track Championships

Madison Central's Colin Brannon is rounding out the list of favorites on the High School Boy's side. 

Handily taking victory at the 2022 Jaguar Trails Opener, look for Brannon to grind against the state's best and maintain his early momentum this season.

Colin Brannon, Madison Central

Here is our pick: Gabe McElwain v. Bennett Ferguson v. Colin Brannon is an intriguing matchup and is one we certainly can't wait to see how it unfolds. McElwain is coming off of a substantial solo win at New Albany, Ferguson is a consistent performer with some flashy PRs to his name, and Brannon is a cross-country specialist that is as tough as nails. 

Ferguson has the leg speed to close well but can also crank down the pace at the halfway mark, and although McElwain and Brannon have a shot, Ferguson will be tough to beat on Saturday. Simply because of his 4:32 1600m and 16:08 5K to his name, as well as the fact that Ferguson has taken down McElwain and Brannon numerous times, we're going to have to go with the Oak Grove senior to take the W. 

**It should also be noted that Louisiana's Ruston High School, the 2021 Watson High School Champions, will be in attendance, making for an exhilarating race**

What will be very exciting to see is if the meet record of 16:02 can go down...