Talk of the Town: Miss. XC Stars Shine at Frank Horton

Overby & Burge Clash at Frank Horton

At the 2023 Frank Horton Night Classic, one Mississippi star's meteoric rise continued to captivate spectators: Simpson Academy's Lilly Overby.

A mere five days after setting a personal best and course record at the Simpson Academy Invitational with an 18:30 5K finish, the sophomore sensation once again showcased her burgeoning talent by clocking in at an impressive 18:32.4, finishing runner-up in a star-studded field.

But the headline isn't just the time - It's whom she out-paced. Overby delivered a powerful statement by besting Hernando's Kaitlyn Burge, the top-ranked runner in the state, handing Burge her the first loss of the season.

Burge's 18:40.6 finish, placing fourth, is nothing short of remarkable in its own right. But the narrative of this race is further intensified by the deep field of elite Mississippi talent that showed up and showed out, including notable names like Layla Warren, Riley Jackson, Kyleigh Carter, Kaydi Blanchard, and powerful contingents from top-ranked teams such as East Rankin Academy and Madison Ridgeland Academy.

That said, there is a palpable buzz in the air: Mississippi Girls Cross Country is arguably at its deepest and most competitive. As autumn leaves begin to fall and temperatures dip, the race to supremacy promises high stakes and thrilling twists.

Strap in, Mississippi, because this season is shaping up to be a rollercoaster of record-breaking performances and thrilling finishes.

Weiss breaks Shelby Farms "MS Course Record"

At the 2023 Frank Horton Night Classic, Hernando's Graham Weiss continued his status as one of Mississippi's premier cross country talents, clocking an impressive 16:14 in the Varsity Boys 5K. This wasn't just another notch in Weiss's stellar season; it was a historic run that crowned him the fastest Mississippi boy to ever record a 5K on the Shelby Farms course, snatching the record from Desoto Central's Gavin Brown.

While Weiss claimed the 15th overall spot, his performance remains particularly noteworthy given that he was the top Mississippian to cross the finish line that night. Looking at the bigger picture, only Tupelo's Andrew Brown and Oxford's Bailey Kosko have managed to outpace him this season, further highlighting Weiss's unwavering consistency.

As the season progresses, the question emerges: With such momentum, what other milestones might Weiss achieve? 

Murphy Takes South Pontotoc Course Record

A the 2023 South Pontotoc Invitational, Myrtle's Ally Murphy didn't merely claim first place; she broke the course record, becoming the first-ever athlete to dip below the 19:50 mark on the South Pontotoc 5K course.

Clocking in at an exceptional 19:47.7, Murphy asserted her dominance, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Caledonia's Emma Ruffin, a MHSAA 4A standout who has committed to Blue Mountain College.

Murphy, just an eighth-grader, faced a stacked field that showcased the cream of crop in North Mississippi's small school talent.

If this is a glimpse into the future of Mississippi's cross country landscape, enthusiasts and competitors alike should be both excited and wary. Ally Murphy is on the ascent, and this victory may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Hewes Wins George County, Remains Undefeated

Jack Hewes of Saint Patrick Catholic snagged his third consecutive victory at the 2023 George County Trail Run, not just winning, but dominating with a 48-second gap and clocking in a commendable 16:32.3-his best time this season. Hewes, an unsigned senior, remains one of the few undefeated runner in Mississippi's Cross Country scene.

Despite his consistent winning streak, Hewes has remained somewhat under the radar this season. Yet, those in the know recognize that he's a force to be reckoned with.

As the season unfolds, the spotlight will inevitably shine brighter on Hewes, especially as he is slated to clash with some of the state's top-tier talent. 

Shannon Snags 1st Win of 2023 at South Pontotoc

At the 2023 South Pontotoc Invitational, Saltillo's Parker Shannon made an emphatic statement, claiming his first victory of the season with a stellar time of 16:25.9. This wasn't just any win for the unsigned senior - it was a season's best, and it etched his name as the runner with the second-fastest 5K ever recorded on the South Pontotoc course.

The presence of formidable adversaries like Starkville's Giles Jones and Harlan Tagert only magnifies the significance of Shannon's accomplishment. After a slow start to his 2023 Cross Country campaign, this could be the surge he needed to shift gears as the post season slowly approaches. 

Quick Hits

Topper Trails

-Reagan Hayes and JJ Hall took the Varsity titles at the 2023 Topper Trails High School Classic

JPS Challenge

-Gauge Montgomery out kicked Gavin Myers to win the Varsity Boys title at the 2023 JPS Cross Country Challenge Series Meet 3. This win marks Montgomery's fifth 1st-place performance of the 2023 Cross Country season.  

-Murrah's Alana Harp soloed a 21:34.7 victory at in the Varsity Girls 5K race at the 2023 JPS Cross Country Challenge Series Meet 3

George County

-Addison Rainey led the Ocean Springs to a 1-2-3 finish at the 2023 George County Trail Run, with the help of Maya Messenger and Caylee Ano. However, in a thrilling team battle, it was the Saint Patrick Catholic Lady Fighting Irish that took the team win by one point over the reigning MHSAA 6A Cross Country Champions, led by sophomore Jayden Ware

-Ocean Springs clinched a narrow victory over Saint Patrick Catholic in the Varsity Boys 5K race. 

Frank Horton

-Several top-tier programs on the ladies side competed at the 2023 Frank Horton Night Classic, including No. 1 ranked East Rankin Academy, No. 2 ranked Simpson Academy, No. 6 ranked Madison Ridgeland Academy, and No. 10 ranked Hernando High School. In an absolute thriller, East Rankin narrowly held off the MRA Lady Patriots by a mere seven points, continuing their undefeated streak to Mississippi programs. Just 11 points back off the Lady Pats stood Hernando High School, securing an impressive victory over Simpson by 15 points. 

South Pontotoc

-Baldwyn's Hagan McCarley took the Small School Boys 5K at the 2023 South Pontotoc Invitational in an impressive 17:10.9, and now stands fourth in MHSAA 1A. 

-In a thrilling finish, Elsie Wilbanks of Corinth High secured the runner-up title in the Large School Girls 5K in 20:05.8. Additionally, Wilbanks led the No. 8 ranked Corinth Lady Warriors to victories over Saltillo High and Clinton High. 

-Parker Shannon led Saltillo to victories over No. 6 ranked Corinth High and No. 10 ranked Starkville High. Additionally, the Starkville Yellowjackets secured an impressive triumph over the Corinth Warriors. 

South Panola

-South Panola High swept the Varsity individual titles on their home course at the 2023 South Panola XC Invitational. Maine Lund soloed an impressive 20:52.5 in the High School Girls 5K, while Will Davis out-kicked Senatobia's Austin Winstead, 18:25 to 18:30, in the High School Boys 5K. 


-Evan Hallford and Emily Snodgrass took the Varsity titles at the Northeast Invitational. Additionally, Neshoba Central won the team race in the Varsity Boys competition, while Choctaw Central won the Varsity Girls team title. 

Kirk Academy

-The Bryan brothers, Samuel Bryan and Tristan Bryan, took the 2023 Kirk Academy Cross Country Invitational by storm, breaking 17 minutes en route to a 1-2 finish. Additionally, in a classic small school versus large school matchup, the Regents of Oxford took down Madison Ridgeland Academy by one point in the team race. 

-In a stunning display of athletic prowess, sixth-grader Blair Britt of MRA took the Varsity Girls title in 20:36.1, marking her first-ever win in Varsity competition. 

Forerunner Lakeshore Run

-Just two days after the Frank Horton Night Classic, Lilly Overby won the Forerunner Lake Shore Run in 19:36.0. This marks win No. 5 for the Simpson sophomore. 

-Heritage Christian's Dallas Stricker took the Varsity Boys title in 17:37.4. 


-Hometown favorite Owen Bertelsen secured an impressive win on his home course at the 2023 Cathedral Invitational, leading his team to victory in the the process. 

-Led by Briley Speights, the No. 3 ranked Columbia Academy Lady Cougars dominated the Cathedral Invitational with a stellar final score of 18 points.