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Poplarville cross country ready for state

The Poplarville boys and girls cross country teams took part in their regional meet last week and ran well enough to book a spot to the state meet next week.

Girls

Head Coach Beth McShea said her athletes’ performances won the region for the Lady Hornets.

There are several seniors on the squad who had competed on the course before, and along with the contributions from some young runners, Poplarville was able to rise above the rest of the competition.

“That’s a tough course at George County, but they did really well. I have four seniors that run for me that did well, along with some of the middle schoolers that were stepping up and we were able to use their scores to help,” McShea said.

Because of COVID-19 shortening the season and hurricanes hitting the area, the team didn’t compete in the usual number of meets prior to regionals like they had in years prior.

The lack of competitions didn’t have a huge effect on the veteran runners, but McShea said some of her younger athletes were a little nervous heading into the regional meet.

“There were some nerves, especially from the younger ones because they heard from the older ones about (an obstacle) down in the woods, but it wasn’t too bad,” McShea said.

Due to inclement weather from Hurricane Zeta this week, the team lost out on multiple practice sessions, but the majority of runners are also part of the girls soccer team and have been able to condition with those athletes to stay in shape.

Those workouts, along with the meet at George County, should end up being enough prep time for the state meet on Nov. 2. “At this point they’re where they need to be. They should be good to go. George County is always good prep for state. It’s always good to see where they’re at,” McShea said.

Boys

The Hornets’ boys team also won the region meet due to the athletes’ fast times.

Head Coach Luke Gipson said his runners’ experience and familiarity with the course helped his team earn first place.

“They were prepared and ready to run. There were no nerves. They showed up and ran and wanted to win a trophy. I was proud of them,” Gipson said.

Now Gipson and seven runners will travel to Clinton, Mississippi Nov. 2 to test their mettle against athletes from across the state.

Instead of taking the week off, Gipson said he planned to try and work his athletes hard leading up to the state meet.

His runners know what is expected of them, and coming off the positive result at the regional meet means the athletes are ready to go to the state meet.

“I’m going to try to build off of the confidence we got (last) Thursday at George County and keep that intensity high going into the final race. If we didn’t do well (at regionals) I don’t think I could amp up the intensity, but now they feel good about the run,” Gipson said.

Gipson’s athletes understand what it takes to compete at the highest level with several seniors making up the squad heading to Clinton.

“At this point it’s just about how they feel and how they perform that day. They’ve been doing everything I’ve asked of them as far as training and hydrating themselves, eating well,” Gipson said.