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Local athletes set new state records on Picayune course

Last weekend a one mile and 5K race took place in Picayune as part of the fall Street Festival, and several local athletes set new records for their age groups.

Gracelynn Spiers set the Mississippi one-mile running record for 5-year-old females with a time of 8:53. Noah Mitchell set the Mississippi one-mile running record for 7-year-old males with a time of 6:59.

Joshua Johnson set the Mississippi one-mile running record for 9-year-old males with a time of 6:18.

Rex Whitaker set the Mississippi one-mile running record for 5-year-old males with a time of 7:44.

All four runners are athletes for Heritage Christian Academy.

John Stricker, who helped certify the course, organize the race and is the current athletic director for HCA, said all the work that went into setting everything up and getting the course certified is worth it when he sees athletes breaking records.

The process of getting the course in Picayune certified was arduous, as was organizing the race.

Stricker said response to the course has been positive, and he’s hopeful records continue to be broken using the course he worked so hard to make available.

“For me it’s really fulfilling when I see one of the kids or somebody I know come out and break a record. But even if it’s somebody that came from North Mississippi and broke a record, that’s still just as fulfilling because you know people are appreciating the certification of the course,” Stricker said.

There have been other races taking place throughout the community, but if the course itself isn’t certified then any record that might’ve been broken won’t be counted by the state.

That’s what makes hosting a race on a certified course so important, and Stricker is hopeful other organizations and groups start hosting races on the course in Picayune in the near future.

“With me being a coach a lot of my (athletes’) parents understand how important it is for a course to be certified. I’m hoping that people will start to understand you can host a race just down the road, but it won’t count (if the course isn’t certified),” Stricker said. Plans are already being made for another race to take place along the Picayune course.

“Right now I’m working with the Gulf Coast Running Club to try and come down and host a race. I’m hoping the certification of the course, and with the course being a nice course, to get them to start hosting races with me so that we have somebody else from the Gulf Coast hosting races,” Stricker said.