St. Patrick won a third straight girls Class 2A state cross country championship Wednesday at the Choctaw Trails course, but the boys failed to repeat, finishing second behind Walnut.
Ocean Springs was 6A boys and girls runnersup and St. Stanislaus junior Keegan Leverett is the 4A boys individual champion.
With five runners in the top 17, St. Patrick girls finished ahead of New Site 31-39.
“It’s a testament to the girls hard work,” coach Timothy McDaniel said. “This is a rebuilding year, so I am really excited about the progress they made. At the start of the season, we did not anticipate this conclusion with a state championship.”
The girls were led by eighth-grader Isabella Patino, who won a bronze medal with a third-place finish in 21:19.46 for 5,000 meters over the hilly course.
The St. Patrick boys had five runners in the top 20, but was beaten by Walnut 53-60.
“We had a quality team going into this race, but sickness got us with a couple of our runners,” McDaniel said. He added that not winning was a little disappointing, but said “All in all, we are excited with the runnerup finish.”
St. Patrick’s top boy was Mason McCullough in fourth with a time of 18:01.01. Tiler Castillo of West Lincoln was the race winner in 17:53.87.
Ocean Springs boys finished behind Pearl 53-75 and the girls lost out to Hernando 62-67. Ocean Springs was defending boys champion,
“One of the nice things and one of the rough things in cross country is that there is no offense and no defense. All we can control is how well we race,” said coach Tim Sayers. “The kids put forward just an unbelievable effort today. You just have to tip your hat to Pearl and Hernando who had better races than we did today. I couldn’t be more proud of this group of kids for the hard work they have put in since June.”
Pearl is a traditional power in cross country, but Hernando won it first state championship.
“Hernando has been a great team all season. They ran a heck of a race,” Sayers said. “All the credit goes to my girls who probably ran their best race of the season.”
Ocean Springs’ top runners were senior Alexander Whyte for the boys, seventh in 17:03, and junior Isabella Wheeler for the girls, fifth in 20:28.10. Race winners were Adams Gomez of Desoto Central for the boys in 16:32.90 and Brandon seventh grader Lauren Entremont for the girls in 19:55.63.
Keegan Leverett was the boys winner with a time of 17:25.42. His twin brother, Carson, was 20th, a minute and a half behind Keegan, who said there is a sibling rivalry in the sport and he usually comes out ahead, “He doesn’t seem to like it.”
Keegan broke away from the field a half mile into the race.
“I had a guy come up on me,” Keegan said. “After having him on my back, I decided to pick it up.”
Corinth won the boys’ race for the fourth year in a row with a team score of 65. Pontotoc was runnerup with 71 and St Stanislaus third with 92. Pass Christian finished seventh and Vancleave 11th.
Corinth also won the girls race for the second year in a row. Pass Christian was third and Vancleave eighth.
Emma Claire James of West Lauderdale was the individual winner in 20:54.44. Haley Clark of Pass Christian was 10th in 22:19.62.
The 1A/3A/5A meet was held Monday. Winners were Brookhaven boys and Saltillo girls in 5A, Senatobia boys and St. Andrew’s girls in 3A and Tupelo Christian boys and girls in 1A. Junior Christian Balcer of East Central was the top individual boy in the two days of competition with a time of 15:50.6. Long Beach sophomore Brooklyn Biancamano had the best girls time of 18:33.20 in winning 5A for the third year in a row.