RETURNER RANKINGS: Mississippi Homeschool Boys Cross Country
As the dawn of a new season breaks, we take a step back to cast an anticipatory glance at the Mississippi Cross Country Championships, a contest eagerly awaited by athletes and fans alike.
Welcome to another summer the "Way Too Early" Cross Country Rankings series, where we shed light on emerging talents, predict potential powerhouses, and dive deep into the statistics that might shape the upcoming season. The promise of thrilling competition, the excitement of emerging talents, and the sheer love of the sport drive this series. So, lace up your running shoes, pull up a chair, and join us as we embark on this fascinating pre-season journey.
Today, we delve into the Mississippi Homeschool Boys Cross Country Championships!
Hamilton and Johnson lead Historically deep field
As Mississippi's 2023 cross country season looms, early predictions point to a thrilling race. The Tupelo Spartans are hitting the ground running, led by the formidable duo of Sam Johnson and Jeb Hamilton - two of the most prolific runners in Mississippi's Homeschool Cross Country scene.
Holding the distinction as the only two returners to have broken 16:40 in the 5K, Johnson and Hamilton have set a high standard. Their record-setting performances at the 2022 All-Mississippi Cross Country Championships saw Johnson race through the 5K in 16:26 and Hamilton close behind at 16:37.
This dynamic pair stole the show at last year's Mississippi Homeschool Cross Country Championships, as Hamilton took first place with a time of 16:39, closely trailed by Johnson, who finished three seconds later. Their fierce rivalry continues to fuel their success.
The 2023 Mississippi Homeschool Track and Field Championships further showcased their talents, as Johnson secured victory in the 3200m while Hamilton claimed the top spot in both the 800m and 1600m races. Hamilton went on to win the 1600m at the 2023 HXN Championships, a prestigious meet featuring Homeschool programs from five states - Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and West Virginia.
But it's not just about Johnson and Hamilton. The Tupelo Spartans will have to fend off stiff competition from the Hattiesburg Forerunners' Henry Richardson and Pearl River Raging Raptors' Anthony Ives. Both Richardson and Ives are sub-17 5K performers who pose a significant challenge.
Ives held his own against the Tupelo Spartans at the 2022 Mississippi Homeschool Cross Country Championships, claiming third place. Meanwhile, Richardson, a nine-time Mississippi Homeschool Champion, is sure to bring his own share of competition and excitement to the event.
In essence, the depth of talent in the Mississippi Boys Homeschool Cross Country scene is unprecedented this year. The stage is set for a Championship season like no other, brimming with fierce competition, extraordinary talent, and the promise of thrilling races to come.
Forerunners Ready to Defend Title
While the Tupelo Spartans' powerhouse duo of Johnson and Hamilton reign supreme in the preseason rankings, the team title could potentially go to a familiar powerhouse, the Hattiesburg Forerunners. They're poised to defend their title and secure an automatic qualifier to the 2023 All-Mississippi Cross Country Championships.
However, the Forerunners' strength doesn't stop with their top three. They have an enviable depth in their roster, boasting a battalion of talented runners like Sean Beard, Eli Bowling, Andrew Daniels, and Liam Normand, each capable of making their mark on any given race day. This depth provides a substantial buffer for the Forerunners, giving them a consistent edge in the team competition.
The Spartans, while holding the top two individual spots, face a more challenging path to the team title. If they can find a No. 4 and 5 runner to match the Forerunners' depth, they could tip the scales in their favor. Until then, however, the team championship seems to lean towards the Forerunners.
Despite the individual brilliance of Johnson and Hamilton, team competitions are won through depth and consistency. And right now, the Hattiesburg Forerunners have both in spades.
As we look ahead to the 2023 Mississippi Homeschool Cross Country Championships, the question remains: Can anyone upset the reigning champions? Stay tuned as we inch closer to the thrilling face-off on the courses of Mississippi.