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Choctaw Cross Country Takes the Lead at Season Opener
The MC Cross Country team returns to Clinton after a summer of diligent training, resulting in the win of their first meet of the season.
Mississippi College’s cross country teams both started their seasons off with a bang, securing the win at their home opener. The men and women both tackled the 5K course at Choctaw Trails in temperatures averaging in the high 80s and low 90s, despite the 6 p.m. start time.
The men’s team beat the other 14 schools present at the meet by at least 63 points. Christian Balcer, a junior from Mississippi College, won the meet with a time of 14:58.27. He was the only runner to break 15 minutes at the meet.
National champion Jan Lukas Becker was close behind in second, with Braedon Methvin, Brock Kelly, and Cole Benoit making up the rest of the top five. Preston Speed and Cooper Parmer finished seventh and eighth, meaning the Choctaws had seven of the top eight performers. The top five finished merely 36 seconds apart while the top seven was only 49 seconds apart.
“We got out pretty relaxed as a group,” said Speed, “and then we kind of stayed together for the next two and a half miles. Then we cranked it out the rest of the way. I’m looking forward to what we can do as a group.”
Speed said that the team has been working hard all summer, and while they are proud of that, they are a long way off from accomplishing their goals. Many of the team members spent their summer in Arkansas training together to get ready for the season.
The women’s cross country team also finished first, edging out teams such as Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. With strong performances from Lauren Wallace, Jazmin Hernandez and Bre Bell, the team secured the win. The trio finished 5th, 6th and 7th correspondingly. Emily Berry, Haley Hall, Josie Whipp and Norma Gutierrez rounded out the top seven finishing 12th, 16th, 19th and 22nd.
The top five finished with a spread time of merely 49 seconds, while the top seven held a spread time of 76 seconds. The team finished with a score of 41 points, beating Mississippi State out by only one point.
Chris Webber, the team’s graduate assistant coach, attributed how special these two teams are to the culture that they have worked so hard to build. He claimed that the goofiness at the start line, such as the girls team’s signature dance, is intentional.
“At the end of the day, it's just running,” said Webber, “The reason we’re good on the course or on the track is because of the things we do off the track.”
The teams are set to compete again Friday, Sept. 15, at the Southern Stampede hosted in Joplin, Missouri.
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