Meet Recap: 2022 South Pontotoc XC Invitational

PONTOTOC, Miss. --- Simply put, Giles Jones of Starkville High School is on fire. 

The Starkville junior is averaging 81 seconds faster than each of his races last year and has broken his 2021 5K PR in three of the four meets he has competed. 

However, the above statistic is an understatement when describing his performance at the 2022 South Pontotoc Invitational, as Jones ran 16:17.6 to win the Large School Boys 5K. 

Jones clipped Walt Johnson's course record by 20 seconds and beat Pontotoc's Caiden Ivy by 43 seconds, who finished runner-up in 17:00.2.

*Walt Johnson winning the 2019 South Pontotoc Invitational

Photo credits: Whitney Robbins

After a fast opening mile of 4:59 from Jones, it was essentially himself versus the clock in a solo effort the last two miles. 

All-MileSplit XC No. 7 Parker Shannon was on the starting line, but Saltillo's top-end talent executed a pack running strategy and put six in the top 10 and a 1-5 split of three seconds. 

"Although more competition would have been nice, I felt pretty good overall about the race.", replied Jones on his thoughts on the race. "My next race is the 2022 Watson High School Meet. I feel like I am in shape to break 16, but the main goal is to stick with some people I know are in good shape."

In the Large School Varsity Girls 5K, we saw another classic Hannah Sanders v. Anna Caroline Crouch matchup. 

*Hannah Sanders and Anna Caroline Crouch at the 2022 TCPS Twilight

Photo credits: Chris Bell, Milesplit Mississippi 

Although Crouch had projected a lot of momentum leading up to the 2022 South Pontotoc Invitational, it was Sanders that evened the record to 2-2, taking the win in 19:51.6. 

According to Sanders, the cool weather played a significant role in the sub-20 5K performances, as well as the competition both Sanders and Crouch offer each other. They were step-for-step the entire race, and with 200m to go, it turned into an all-out sprint for the finish. As mentioned above, Sanders took the win in 19:51 to Crouch's 19:53.3. 

Sanders and Crouch were the first girls to break 20 minutes in the 5K at the South Pontotoc High School course, marking Sanders as the new course record holder. 

COURSE RECORDS: South Pontotoc High School Girls 5K

Other News

*Ally Murphy leading Carrie Anne Brown at the 2022 Tupelo Invitational

Photo credits: Drew Lewis

In other news, Aaron Penfield of Center Hill held off Jace Yates of East Webster by a mere 0.36 seconds, running 11:45.24 to Yates's 11:45.60. Starkville High School won the Jr. High Boys team title, with 7th-grader Cline Kemp leading the way. 

Seventh-grade star Ally Murphy of Myrtle snagged her fifth win of the year, running 12:50.2 to stay undefeated for the 2022 cross country season. Saltillo High School got the team win in the Junior High girls 2 mile. 

Kossuth's Samuel Hopper got his first win of the 2022 cross country season, running a PR of 17:51.1 to Hagan McCarley's 17:55.6. Hopper also led Kossuth High School to the team title. 

8th-grader Eliza McCarley, the 2021 MHSAA 2A Cross Country Champion, earned her second of the season in 20:49.5. Alcorn Central had a narrow victory over Kossuth to go home with the Varsity Girls team trophy.