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Picayune cross country ends season at state meet

Maroon Tide cross country team enjoyed a meet on Nov. 4 that didn’t involve severe inclement weather as they competed on the state level.

The race was held on the Choctaw Trails in Clinton, Miss.

Seeing as it was on a school day, Head Coach Chris Wise and his athletes left Picayune Memorial High School and arrived at the trails at about 10 a.m.

This gave the runners plenty of time to warm up before the races began.

At state meets, the top 12 runners get to step on the podium and senior Mason Watkins was once again shoulder to shoulder with the fastest runners in the state.

While it wasn’t the same first place finish he had last year, Watkins came in fifth with a time of 17:21 on the 5K course.

The high finish helped the boys team come in eighth; the girls team came in ninth.

Sophomore Georgia Patton was the top finisher for the girls team with a time of 25:29.

Wise had been preparing his athletes for this specific meet all year, but he still wasn’t sure how the squad was going to stack up against the other schools.

The top placements and good times exceeded his expectations so Wise said it’s a good indication of a bright future for the program.

“They did much better than anyone expected. I hope we can hold onto that next year and continue to inch forward,” Wise said. Now the athletes will splinter off into various groups as they join other teams for the Maroon Tide.

However, Wise said those who are serious about the program would run on the side to maintain their conditioning until training begins again over the summer.

“Cross country is a sport where you have to be competing all the time,” Wise said.

When Wise looked back on the year he said he was pleased with how the athletes came together to support each other.

Cross country is an endurance sport and the athletes respect one another because of the work it takes to be successful.

Wise said he hopes more athletes join the team and that the program will keep growing.

“I think it’s an environment for every type of student to thrive, improve and be confident in themselves. I just value the people I’m around, and I’m blessed to be here,” Wise said.