Varsity Boys 5K
The Boys 5k is headlined by the Henry Richardson of the Hattiesburg Forerunners and Jeb Hamilton of the Tupelo Spartans.
*Henry Richardson winning the 2021 Homeschool Championships
Photo credits: Christian Leach
Richardson is the returning champ, as he took home the individual title at the 2021 Mid-South Homeschool Championships. In 2020, Richardson also won the MSAHA Championships for cross country.
This season has been a strong one for Richardson as he has won three races and placed second in two races. His wins include the Victors Kickoff at the Quarry, the Wildcat XC Open, and the MRA Cross Country Invitational. At the 2022 Frank Horton "Night" Classic, he ran 16:43, ranking him as the fastest runner in the homeschool division.
Hamilton has had a great cross-country season so far, as he boasts a personal best of 16:52. Like Richardson, this PR came from the 2022 Frank Horton "Night" Classic. Hamilton has also had impressive placement this year as he has been a top-five finisher in four of his five races.
*Jeb Hamilton, Tupelo Spartans
Photo credits: Christian Leach, MileSplit Mississippi
Richardson and Hamilton are the only two runners that hold a season-best below 17 minutes going into Saturday's race.
The race for third will be a toss-up. Some runners with a good chance of taking third are Sam Johnson, Noah Moudy, Anthony Ives, and Max Bowling,
All of these athletes are within 25 seconds of each other, and with it being a championship race, it will likely be much closer.
Johnson has the fastest PR of the bunch with a 17:17. He will also be riding the high of winning his most recent race - the 2022 Spartan Invitational.
Moudy is also coming into this race with confidence, as his previous race was a new 5K PR of 17:24.
As for Ives and Bowling, they are separated by just seven seconds. Both of these athletes have placed in the top five in five of their races this season.
The team race really will come down to two teams:The Hattiesburg Forerunners, and the Tupelo Spartans.
The Spartans could potentially place two runners in the top three. However, the Forerunners have had a stronger 3-5 this season. It will be a close one, but the Forerunners are the favorites to win.
This field is full of runners who know how to race and place high, so it is guaranteed to be a thrilling fight.
Varsity Girls 5k
Alyssa Frost leads the entry list with the fastest season-best.
Alyssa ran 20:49 at the 2022 Frank Horton "Night" Classic. She has two wins on the season and a top-five finish in four other races. These wins came at the MRA Cross Country Invitational and the Simpson Academy Invitational. Alyssa is the on-paper favorite to take home the individual title.
A challenger to Alyssa is her own family member, Kaylie Frost. She is just a sixth grader, but she is the fastest in the state for her age. On the season, Kaylie has won two races: the 2022 Wildcat XC Open and the 2022 Forerunner XC Challenge. Kaylie has four other finishes in the top three. She currently holds a 5K PR of 21:05.
Right behind Kaylie is Sydney Moudy. Holding a 5K PR of 21:10, she is not far off the Frost sisters. Moudy has five finishes this season in the top five.
The fight to fill out the rest of the top five will likely be between Laine Benton, Lana Hester, and Julianna Hamilton.
Hester will have an edge over the others as she just won the 2022 Spartan Invitational. This will serve as a great confidence boost to ride into her biggest race of the season.
Benton holds a personal best of 21:56 and has placed in the top 15 in all but one race this season.
Hamilton has improved throughout the season, with her last two races being in the 22s for the 5k.
With the high stakes of this race, it will be a fight to finish for every placement.
On the team side, the Hattiesburg Forerunners are stacked.
*The Hattiesburg Forerunners at the 2021 Mississippi All-State Cross Country Championships
Photo credits: Ben Woolhouse
They will likely place four runners in the top five. Doing that would almost secure them the win, as they have a very solid fifth runner in Olive Normand. The Tupelo Spartans will also have a very low score, but they will have to break up the Forerunners' top four to get the win themselves.