One year after Brookhaven High School became the first Mississippi High School Boys team to have all scoring five under 17 minutes in the 5K, Pearl High School put their name in the record books as debatably the deepest team in Mississippi High School Boys history.
Seven boys at 17 minutes or faster, 11 at 17:20 or faster, the fastest varsity, junior varsity, and third varsity team on paper, a scoring five average of 16:10... There isn't much you can't say about the 2022 Pirate Cross Country squad. Their junior varsity team could have won over half of the other classifications in Mississippi. Their varsity team took home the coveted 2022 Watson team title, and their junior varsity then won the Silver Division.
In summary, the depth that the Pearl Pirates displayed during the 2022 Cross Country circuit was nothing short of incredible.
They polished their 2022 Cross Country season off with the 2022 MHSAA 6A Boys team title, as well as low stick JaQuavion Bryant taking the 2022 MHSAA 6A Boys individual title in an absolute thriller.
*Bryant winning the 2022 MHSAA 6A Boys individual title in Cross Country
Photo credits: Chris Bell
With the help of former Pearl High School coach Woody Barnett, here are some statistics on the depth and future of the Pearl High School Boy's Cross Country team this season:
-They were the first time in Mississippi history to have six athletes under 17 minutes in the 5K, both in a season and in a single race.
-They were the first time in Mississippi history to have two sophomores under 16 minutes in the 5K.
-They now hold the second-fastest seasonal 5K average in Mississippi history at 16:10. The record is 16:09 from the 1979 Pearl High School squad.
-They broke the new Choctaw Trails 5K average record at the MHSAA Cross Country Championships.
-They won the 2022 MHSAA 6A Cross Country team title. They have now won four of the last six MHSAA 6A titles and 23 state championships overall.
And perhaps the scariest thing, their entire varsity seven will be returning in 2023.
Head Coach Chris Barnett
*commenting on what it was like coaching perhaps the deepest time in Mississippi High School Boys Cross Country history.
"It was fun. It's always fun when you have a group of kids that hold each other accountable and love working hard each day. We had a saying, and it was, 'Don't be afraid to run fast.' That carried over into challenging each other in races."