Talk of the Town: More Records Continue to Tumble

Pearl Pirates Average 16:07 for 5K, Break State Record

The Pearl High School Boys are truly on fire this season, making Mississippi history at the 2023 Southern Showcase.

Defying records set over four decades ago, the Pearl Pirates shattered their own 1979 state record with an impressive average of 16:07, narrowly besting the previous 16:09 mark. What's even more commendable is their performance on a grand stage in Huntsville, securing a commendable seventh-place in the Championship section.

Spearheading this feat was the unparalleled talent of Jaquavion Bryant, who clocked a jaw-dropping 15:42 - making it the second-quickest 5K time in the state's history. Supported by the commendable efforts of Farren Oberto, Tanner Moore, Maxi Duran, and Karol Gonzalez, all eyes are now on the Pearl Pirates.

Additionally, they now have nine guys on their rosters with sub-17 5K(XC) performances, officially marking them as the not only the fastest, but the deepest High School Boys Cross Country squad in Mississippi Cross Country history. 

With momentum on their side, the question that lingers is: Could they redefine greatness with a sub-16 5K team average? Only time will tell, but they're certainly on the right track.

Andrew Brown runs 15:39 5K, fastest-ever for Mississippi Freshman

Andrew Brown  of Tupelo is a name to remember.

At the 2023 Southern Showcase, this prodigious freshman sent shockwaves across the state, clocking an astounding 15:39 5K(XC). Not only was he the foremost Mississippian at the finish, narrowly ahead of Pearl's standout Bryant, but he now boasts the season's fastest 5K(XC) time in Mississippi.

The Brown legacy seems to be rooted in speed, with Andrew snatching the fastest-ever 5K(XC) record for a Mississippi freshman from none other than his older brother, Taylor Brown. With this achievement, Tupelo High School can now claim dominance over the freshman 5K(XC) leaderboard, with the Brown siblings and Max Holman holding the top spots.

The young Andrew Brown has been nothing short of phenomenal, remaining unbeaten by his state peers. As he sits atop the All-MileSplit Mississippi XC team, eyes are keenly set on whether this freshman sensation can clinch the prestigious Watson Cross Country Classic individual title.

Kaitlyn Burge Continues Undefeated Streak, Crushes Saltillo in 18:25

The 2023 Saltillo Cross Country Invitational, a meet synonymous with an electric atmosphere and high-caliber competition, once again lived up to its reputation.

Among the dazzling performers, Hernando's Kaitlyn Burge was the brightest star of the day. With a performance that can only be described as monumental, Burge not only clinched her fourth consecutive victory but also set the Mississippi Cross Country scene ablaze, becoming the first female athlete this season to break the coveted 19-minute barrier in the 5K(XC).

But Burge wasn't just content with breaking the mark; she annihilated it, clocking a remarkable 18:25.5 and leading the race wire-to-wire.To put a cherry on top, the Hernando dynamo left her closest competitor in the dust, finishing a staggering 55 seconds ahead.

The dominance displayed by Burge this season is nothing short of spectacular, with her unbeaten streak solidifying her as the athlete to watch.

Kudos also to Madison Central's Alex Lee and Northwest Rankin's Grace Hoeniges, who secured their spots in the top three, showcasing the depth of talent in Mississippi's cross country scene.

Bailey Kosko Delivers 2nd Sub-16 5K, Wins Saltillo in 15:50

The atmosphere at the 2023 Saltillo Cross Country Invitational was nothing short of electrifying, with Oxford's Bailey Kosko further solidifying his dominance in North Mississippi.

Fresh from his triumphant run at the 2023 Mooreville XC Invitational, where he clocked an impressive 15:46, Kosko showcased tactical brilliance at Saltillo. Instead of blazing ahead from the start, he astutely nestled within the pack, observing the ebb and flow as leaders like Starkville's Harlan Tagert and Giles Jones, Desoto Central's Gavin Brown, and Hernando's Graham Weiss took turns at the helm. But as the race neared its conclusion, Kosko unveiled his masterstroke.

With just a kilometer left and only Weiss as his primary competition, the Oxford Junior unleashed an unmatched surge, eventually creating a decisive seven-second lead.

Both Kosko and Weiss dazzled, breaking the 16-minute barrier, with Weiss clocking his personal best of 15:57.2. With Jones, Madison Central's Colin Brannon, and Brown completing the top five, it's evident that the Mississippi cross country circuit is bursting with talent.

As 2023 Tupelo Invitational draws nearer, the stage is set for another exciting showdown.

Team Recap

The past week was brimming with unexpected turns and stellar performances across Mississippi's cross country scene.

The Madison Central High School Lady Jaguars, previously unranked, delivered the week's most dramatic shake-up, toppling the seventh-ranked Hernando High School Lady Tigers. Alex Lee's leadership combined with lifetime bests from their 2-5 runners, not only secured them a win over a formidable MHSAA 7A team but might also have propelled them into contention for a state title.

In the boys' category, the tussle was equally fierce. The #3 ranked Madison Central High School narrowly edged out #8 Saltillo High School, with just three points separating the two powerhouses. The close contest proves Saltillo's upward trajectory - they are a team to watch.

And speaking of teams to watch, the Hattiesburg Forerunners, ranked sixth, had a defining performance at the 2023 MRA Cross Country Invitational. Dominating the field by 81 points and placing four in the top six - with Henry Richardson leading the pack - this Homeschool squad is quickly staking their claim as one of Mississippi's best. Their potential face-off with other top-tier teams at a meet such as the Watson Cross Country Classic is eagerly anticipated, though currently not on the Forerunners schedule.

Brookhaven High School, currently ranked fifth in the state, barely managed to fend off an unranked Clinton High School at the Warren Central Valhalla Invitational, though they were without low stick Cooper Wallace. But Clinton, powered by Jonah Barnhardt's remarkable lifetime best, showcased they have the mettle to challenge even top-ranked teams.

Meanwhile, at the same Invitational in Vicksburg, the Clinton High School Lady Arrows, ranked eighth, breezed to victory with a commanding 40-point score. Kaedyn Wilson, leading the charge, left a lasting impression with a meet win.

However, it was the East Rankin Academy Lady Patriots, holding the #1 rank, that maintained its indomitable run against Mississippi rivals. Their win at the MRA Cross Country Invitational came over formidable opponents like Columbia Academy and Simpson Academy. The close margin of victory for the East Rankin Lady Patriots, who held off Simpson by just two points, indicates the intensity and competitiveness of the Mississippi cross country landscape.

Ocean Springs High School also displayed some incredible team depth, sweeping the Varsity titles at the 2023 Pass Christian Invitational

In a nutshell, this past week has set the stage for an electrifying conclusion to the cross country season, and fans are in for a treat!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jack Hewes and Joseph Ross of Saint Patrick Christian showcased their prowess by clinching the top two spots at the Pass Christian Invitational.

  • Addison Rainey, the No. 2 ranked runner on the All-MileSplit Mississippi XC team, spearheaded Ocean Springs to a resounding win at Pass Christian.

  • David Lee of Madison Middle School narrowly clinched the MS 2-mile title at Saltillo, outpacing Oxford's Hamahdan Hassan by a mere 0.4 seconds.

  • Eupora High School's Mary White shone brightly in the MS division, speeding through Saltillo's course in a swift 13:31.

  • Emma Ruffin from Caledonia High School made her mark, racing through the 5K Saltillo terrain in an impressive 20:20 to secure victory in the Small School Girls Division.

  • The Tupelo Spartans' dynamic duo, Sam Johnson and Jeb Hamilton, once again proved their mettle by finishing 1-2 at the 2023 Saltillo Cross Country Invitational, clocking under 17 minutes and marking their second 1-2 finish this season.

  • Kaedyn Wilson of Clinton High School set Vicksburg's track ablaze, becoming the sole female athlete to dip under 20 minutes at the Warren Central Valhalla Invitational with a time of 19:50.

  • A thrilling duel unfolded at the 2023 MRA Cross Country Invitational, where Henry Richardson narrowly triumphed over Zachary Josiah Nobles, 16:53 to 16:55.

  • Simpson's dynamic pair, Lilly Overby and Layla Warren, delivered an outstanding performance at the 2023 MRA Cross Country Invitational, making them the day's only runners to break the 20-minute mark.

  • Brookelyn Morgan of Tupelo made a mark out-of-state at the 2023 Southern Showcase, clocking an impressive 19:13.5. She now holds the third-fastest 5K(XC) performance in Mississippi this season.

  • Pearl's Katherine Neal shone brightly at the same event, breaking the 20-minute barrier for the first time with a commendable 19:37.7. This puts her in a remarkable position with the seventh-fastest 5K(XC) performance in the state to date.