Weekend Preview: The Reopening of Choctaw Trails

THE OPENER - High School / Middle School

Choctaw Trails Clinton, MS
Sep 2, 2023

Venue Records: Choctaw Trails *new course*

Meet Records

Defending Champions

Teams Entered

Meet Preview

As the iconic Choctaw Trails course swings its gates open for The Opener, Mississippi's cross-country circuit is buzzing with palpable anticipation. This year's edition might just be the most exhilarating yet, thanks to a field brimming with talent that arguably makes it the most competitive in the meet's history.

The much-awaited season debut of Pearl High School's boys' team is the talk of the town. Recognized as the state's top high school boys' team, the Pirates are not content with just leading charts-they're on a mission to etch their names as Mississippi's greatest ever. Their impressive 2022 track record of a 5K(XC) average of 16:10 and six athletes finishing under the 17-minute 5K(XC) mark, both state records, certainly makes them the ones to watch. Their breathtaking 3200m performance a few weekends back, where their top five clocked an average of 9:41, further highlights their potential. The Opener might just be the beginning of their journey to a sub-16-minute 5K(XC) average.

Pearl's very own, JaQuavion Bryant, stands as a beacon of unmatched talent. As the current MHSAA 6A Cross Country Champion and the top-ranked athlete on the All-MileSplit Mississippi Cross Country team, his 15:40 seed time has set the pace. Bryant is not just fast; he's a strategic racer known for his explosive kick, especially on the turf.

Also from the Pirate brigade, Farren Oberto is signaling a season of personal bests. His recent 9:32 in the aforementioned 3200m, hot on Bryant's heels who stopped the clock at 9:31, hints at a form that is in shape and ready to roll. Watch out for this duo turning up the heat as the race progresses.

Madison St. Joseph's star, William Fugate, who is the No. 2 ranked runner in the state, brings a streak of unbeaten races and a 15:41 5K(XC) PR. Fresh from setting a course record at the 2023 Victors Kickoff at the Quarry with a time of 16:09, his resilience and ability to change gears from a distance stand unparalleled.

The field isn't just about the titans. Desoto Central's Gavin Brown, Oak Grove's Grayson Taylor and Luke Skinner, and the entire Pearl roster bring depth to the competition. Add Ruston from out-of-state into the mix, and you've got a recipe for an electrifying season opener.

In the Varsity Girls 5K, all eyes are on St. Joseph's Academy. This out-of-state powerhouse from Baton Rouge has already laid down their mark by clinching the 2022 Watson team title. Boasting of three athletes who've clocked sub-5:20 miles and another who's shattered the 11:10 mark in the 2-mile, these ladies are all set to ruffle some feathers.

Simpson Academy's Lilly Overby wears the crown of the No. 1 ranked High School Girl in Mississippi. Overby's face-off last year against the girls of St. Joseph's Academy at the 2022 Watson High School Cross Country Classic is still fresh in memories, where she stood as Mississippi's shining star. She's eager for the rematch and promises fireworks.

Overby is not alone. Her teammate, Layla Warren, also commands respect. Both Warren and Overby belong to the elite club of athletes with sub-19 minute 5K PRs. Their combined prowess could give the SJA girls a run for their money.

But wait - There's more! Making her return to the grass is Ocean Springs' top runner, Addison Rainey. As the reigning MHSAA 6A Cross Country Champion and Mississippi High School Girls Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year, she's been missing from the track since her early January race at the 2023 LSU High School Classic. With a PR of 19:10, the anticipation for her return is sky-high.

The No. 1 ranked East Rankin Academy, led by Audrey Mayatte, is on an unbeaten streak. With teams like Columbia Academy and the dynamic duo from Saint Aloysius also joining the fray, the competition promises to be fierce.

In conclusion, as the whistle blows and the race kicks off, spectators are in for a treat. The sheer depth of talent, the historical rivalries, and the promise of record-breaking runs will ensure "The Opener" is a day to remember.