JACKSON -- Ocean Springs freshman Sadie Smith summed up her team's third MHSAA 6A cross country championship in the last four years with two words.
"It's awesome," she said after leading the Lady Greyhounds to victory with a fourth finish Tuesday in a time of 19:59.1 for five kilometers at the Choctaw Trails course.
Ocean Springs took five of the top 13 places to finish with a team score of 43, just ahead of Pearl and Starkville, which each scored 65.
"The key today was just the entire season," said coach Tim Sayers. "It started in June with our offseason workouts and the training over the summer to get ready for the season. All their hard work showed up today."
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Sayers had special praise for Smith, a first-year varsity runner.
"Today she was a great leader for us," Sayers said.
Other Lady Greyhounds in the top 13 were Caroline Pocreva seventh (20:21.7), Mariana Strawn eighth (20:24.1), Amelia Prochnow eleventh (20:28.8) and Katherine didn't get the time I planned to get but I got the W," he said.
Underwood took the lead a mile in to the race and held off teammate Zach Deihl, who finished second in 17:39.
"I didn't want to go out too fast the first mile," Underwood said.
Despite battling asthma-induced breathing problems, a stitch in her side and stomach cramps, Vancleave sophomore Lina May was an easy winner in the girls 4A race, finishing in 20:15.4, more than a minute ahead of runner-up Molly Johnson of Corinth. May was runner-up a year ago to Regen McGee of Pass Christian, who won a third straight championship but was unable to compete this year due to a leg injury.
"I felt bad for her, this being her senior year," May said.
In its first year as a 6A school, Pearl's boys easily won the title with four runners in the top six, led by Nakenbe Fleming, the winner in 16:43.9. Ocean Springs was runner-up, which pleased Sayers.
"We have a very young group on the boys side," he said. Ocean Springs freshman Matthew Mestayer was the top Coast runner with an eleventh place finish (17:27.8).
The girls individual winner was Starkville junior Kate Mattox who finished in 18:40.5, 32 seconds better than her sister, Caroline.Class 4A
Team championships were won by the Senatobia boys and Pontotoc girls. East Central boys and Vancleave girls both finished third.
East Union swept girls and boys championships. Individual winners were Chris Lewis of J.Z. George in the boys race (17:27.2) and Gracie Mills of Potts Camp, a seventh grader, for the girls (21:00.4).
Our Lady Academy was the top girls team from the Coast in fourth and OLA's Jordan Bosage was the top individual, finishing fifteenth (23:50.9). There were no boys teams from the Coast entered in 2A.