It was a good day to be a Greyhound at the MHSAA state cross country meet Monday as Ocean Springs swept the 6A boys and girls championships.
For the girls, it was a third straight championship and the fourth in five years. It was the second title for the boys. Ocean Springs also swept in 2012.
“All seven guys just stepped up and did what we asked of them,” Ocean Springs coach Tim Sayers said of the boys team that placed four runners in the top 12 to edge defending champion Pearl 60-63. “In cross country, there is no offense and no defense. All we can do is lay it on the line, run just as fast as we can and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Ocean Springs girls had a much easier time, literally running away from the competition. With five runners in the top eight, the Lady Greyhounds defeated runner-up Tupelo 27-80 with the team' best performance this season. The average time for Ocean Springs' top five runners of 20:03 was a full minute better than Tupelo.
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“Watching them in practice all week and seeing how well they trained beginning in the summer and how hard they worked all through the season, I knew we had the potential,” Sayers said. “They're such a devoted group and they work so hard. I wasn't surprised at all that we had this performance. We put it all together today. It was just a perfect day for us.”
Matthew Mestayer led the boys team with a ninth place finish. He was quickly followed across the finish line by Alexander Whyte in 10th, James Harsch 11th and Joseph Gallo 12th. Jonathan Carter in 23rd place rounded out the scoring for Ocean Springs.
For the Lady Greyhounds, Sadie Smith was third, Andrea Wheeler fourth, Amelia Prochnow fifth, Isabelle Wheeler seventh and Katherine Prochnow eighth. Smith, who missed a month of the season with a hip injury, returned to finish behind six-time state champion Kate Mattox of Starkville and Hannah Pinter of Pearl in 19:46.3.
“At the beginning of the season, my goal was to come in third. I didn't know it that would happen,” Smith said. “I'm very happy.”
With no senior on either team, there could be more championships in the future for Ocean Springs.
Two area runners won gold medals with the best boys and girls times for all six classes. George County senior Giacomo DeLuca III won 6A boys in 15:53 for five kilometers over the difficult Choctaw Trails course, the sixth best time in the 25-year history of the meet. Vancleave junior Lina May repeated as 4A girls winner in 18:49, the fifth best since MHSAA went to 5A for girls in 2014 and 1.6 seconds better than Maddox's 6A winning time.
DeLuca pulled away from Lake Spradling of Starkville in the second half of the race to win by 20 seconds.
“I realized around the two mile mark that I could not hear his (Spradling's) footsteps behind me,” DeLuca said. “Then I knew to kick it in a little more.”
It was the first cross country championship for DeLuca, a senior. In track, he won the 5A 1600 as a freshman and sophomore.
May trailed Emma Claire James of West Lauderdale for much of the race before pulling away to win by 31 seconds. “With about three minutes to go in the race, I was able to get past her when she slowed down a little,” May said. The winning time even surprised her. “It was way better than I thought it would be.”
Other area team performances in 6A boys were George County 13th, Biloxi 14th, Harrison Central 15th, Hancock 20th, St. Martin 22nd, D'Iberville 25th and Gulfport 26th.
In 6A girls, Gulfport was sixth, Harrison Central 11th, Biloxi 16th, George County 17th and Hancock 22nd.
In 4A boys, St. Stanislaus was third, East Central 10th, Pass Christian 13th and Vancleave 20th.
Poplarville took third in 4A girls, led by bronze medalist Janelle Johnson. Vancleave was sixth, Pass Christian 10th and East Central 15th.
Corinth swept the boys and girls 4A titles, with Senatobia second in both.
St. Patrick won 3A girls Saturday.