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Strange season ends with state meet for Poplarville cross country

Poplarville’s cross country teams saw their COVID-19 shortened season come to an end Nov. 2 when the squads took part in the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s state cross country meet.

Girls

The girls cross country team’s performance earned them 10th place out of the 17 teams in attendance, and also had a medal earning time.

Senior Evelyn Kimball finished 13 out of 119 runners Athletes who place in the top 15 get a medal as a reward for their performance.

Head Coach Beth McShea said having four senior runners at the meet was a positive for the Lady Hornets as the athletes were prepared and not overwhelmed by the atmosphere.

“Having four seniors was huge in the fact that they had all been there before. For all of them this was their third year (running at state), and some (had been going) longer than that,” McShea said.

The team was rounded out by a group of middle school runners whose performances impressed McShea this season.

Not only did the youngsters’ times help with the team score this year, but the fast times are also an indication of future promise in the program.

“I think (the seniors) were about where I figured they would be this year. The younger kids surprised me because none of them had run before so they did well, then my seniors were a little faster than last year so they were right about where they should be,” McShea said.

Boys

The boys team was down two of its top runners due to the athletes picking up injuries while competing with the soccer team.

Still, Head Coach Luke Gipson said the performance from his remaining runners was good, and now the team knows what it takes to compete against the state’s best programs.

“They met my expectations. Going into state and seeing the other times, now we know what the bar is set at. For the future moving forward, now we know we need to get all the guys sub 20 (minutes) if we want to get close to placing,” Gipson said.

The team didn’t get to compete in state last year because of date complications with soccer games, because a large portion of the runners are also on the soccer team.

It was an atmosphere unlike previous meets this season with a larger number of teams and more on the line.

Gipson said the athletes felt the pressure of the meet before the race began, but overall the season was a good building block for next year.

“I could see the nerves because of the importance of the meet. It was a big thing and I could see their eyes light up. We did well for us. Unfortunately, those other teams just ran that much better,” Gipson said.