Poplarville cross country competes in first meet

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 16, 2020

Poplarville’s boys cross country team participated in its first meet of the season Tuesday where two runners set new personal bests. Head Coach Luke Gipson said Logan Price and Lane Ladner both set new personal records at the meet that took place on Neely Farms in Magee, Miss.

Poplarville’s team is comprised of an experienced group, so nerves weren’t an issue for the Hornets.

Hydration, on the other hand, was.

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The course is over rough, hilly terrain in the Mississippi heat, resulting in multiple athletes complaining of cramps around the 2-mile mark of the race, Gipson said.

Seeing as it was the first race of the season it was understandable for some of the runners to not be properly hydrated or in peak condition, but Gipson said that’s something that comes with experience. “For us improvement needs to come by hydrating properly days before a meet. Sometimes that’s hard to think about, especially for a teenager,” Gipson said.

Gipson said his runners were familiar with the course, having run it in years past, and that helped their placements.

Runners like Price knew the terrain and how to best use it to his advantage.

The hope was that the runners would conserve energy on the downhill portions of the course in order to then sprint the final mile, which Price executed perfectly.

“Logan was in ninth or tenth (coming into the) last mile then finished third. That’s where experience is now playing a part. When we first went there four years ago we didn’t run well, but now we’re getting to enjoy the experience part of athletes knowing (the course),” Gipson said.

The team’s first meet had originally been scheduled to take place late last week, but was cancelled because of Hurricane Delta.

To make up for the lost competition Gipson is hoping his team can take part in a meet at D’Iberville High School this Saturday.

However, if Poplarville doesn’t get to compete Saturday, then the team’s next run will be at the upcoming regional meet in George County.

In previous years only having one meet’s worth of experience before heading into regional competition would’ve been cause for concern, but because of the runners’ experience this year, Gipson isn’t worried about how his team will perform.

“In the past I think it would’ve affected them because they were learning to get over nerves and jitters, but at this point we’ve figured out how to test them and prepare them enough in practice that I think they’ll be fine,” Gipson said.