Starkville High XC Invitational

I haven’t had time to write anything on here lately, but the running is still happening! Lots of ups and downs the last few weeks, especially for Joseph. Two weeks ago he stepped wrong on some rough terrain while doing 1000m intervals and hurt his lower leg. Doctor thought it was some relatively minor ligament damage, but said he could run if he wrapped it, iced it, and was careful. This was just two weeks after he twisted his knee on that same leg on while doing the same workout on the same course! Bad luck I guess. The first incident was just before the Jesse Owens race in Alabama, which he PR’ed in, but really did not look good in. He was running with a strong limp. Coincidentally, I twisted my knee that same day. But, my knees hurt on any given day, depending on the weather, so I am more used to it. The worst part was that he finally seemed to be looking better after the Watson Invitational, and had arguably his best 10 mile run ever the following morning and the future was looking bright! Two days later, the new leg injury! Such is life I guess. Fortunately, the following weekend was an off weekend for us, with no meet. Even so, he decided to run a local 5k here in Starkville. He ran it, but at a tempo type pace, so as not to push it too much. That was good enough for about 17:10 or so, and he won the race.  A few other cross country kids from the team also ran. Damian Grady also ran and came in second with a time of 17:39.  I came in 4th with a 18:05, Ethan Musser was 5th with an 18:26, Nathan Gaudin was just over 20 minutes, and our buddy Steve Shaffer was 20:30 or so, which I believe was a PR for him!!

We did another 10 mile run the next morning, which was semi-cold. Only a few of the guys showed up with Ethan, Damian, and Steve joining Joseph and I. Everyone was slower this time, but we had a really hard week of running the previous week, so I was not overly surprised.  By the time Monday rolled around, Joseph was feeling sick, and I was feeling some twinges of it as well. We ran about hour that afternoon, but it was not as easy as usual. The next day we did a practice meet at the XC course so we make sure all of our volunteers knew what to do for the meet we would be hosting the next Saturday. As luck would have it, a storm was coming in and it was crazy windy and the temperature was dropping quickly. Everybody ran the course slow! Joseph lead the entire way until the last 400m, then Kamau caught him and passed him at the end. Neither looked remarkable, running around 18:40, which was about the pace Joseph had run 10 miles a week and a half ago. But, he was still visibly limping and was feeling much worse. The next day, Joseph stayed home to rest his leg, and to try to get over his cold or whatever he had. I went to practice the next day, but did not run myself, as I was also starting to feel worse. Thursday and Friday was fall break for the kids, so since Joseph and I were both sick, we took the next two days off. I was hoping the break would help him for our home meet the next day. As it was, we were tempted to not have him run.

Got up Saturday and headed to the meet. Joseph decided to run. Probably not the best idea, but he felt like his leg was feeling better. The cold was still there, but he medicated heavily early that morn! Well, the race started out good for him, and he lead the first couple of miles, with Andrew White from Tupelo right there with him. But, at the 2 mile mark, his body looked like it just quit, and he even looked delirious. He was about to wander off the course at one point, and I told him to look where he was going. Anyway, he fell back a good bit and had his worst race all year coming in 4th with a 17:15, 33 seconds slower than the last time he had run the course. Andrew White won with a time of 16:57, which was 15 seconds slower than what Joseph had run on this same course a month earlier. The second and third finishers were from JZ George and Pearl, and he had beat both of them in earlier races by about 40 or more seconds, so he was pretty embarrassed about not winning this race. Regardless, he did the best he could despite being injured, being sick, and having problems with some medicine and still managed to be our top finisher. Kamau almost caught him down the stretch, but he mustered some last minute energy and did not let him pass him. They finished less than a second apart! Damian was next in 6th place with a time of 17:24 (PR), followed by Ethan Musser in 12th (18:09), Stuart Woomer in 15th (18:17),  Aaron Remotigue in 19th (18:32), and Alex Ross in 23rd (18:50).  With the guys all packed together, they were able to garner enough points to win the meet, beating both Tupelo and Pearl! I don’t believe Starkville has beat Tupelo in over 10 years, so that was pretty sweet! And this time last year, Pearl was killing us. This time two years ago, Starkville was not even in the picture. So, yeah, tremondous day! Plus, we had both local papers out at the course, and they both did great stories about the team.

Varsity boys, 1st place!

Not to be outdone by the boys, Kate Mattox won the girls race, beating two other really good runners. She PR’ed on the 4k course running a 15:06! As a result of this strong race, and others she had recently run, she was named the Mississippi Female Athlete of the week by the Clarion Ledger!  Her sister Walker Mattox, Abigail Arinder, and Shanika Musser also ran very well, all PR’ing, and they were good enough as a team to place second.

Complete results for the meet can be seen at:

Since Joseph had such a problem with the medicine he took, I told him not to take anymore, and I did the same. Later that day, I went to the gym and lifted some weights. I could not take any more sitting around! I then ran a good 30 minutes at a decent pace. The next morning, Damian, Ethan, and Steve again joined Joseph and I for a run at 7 AM. With only two weeks until the state meet, we cut the run down to just over 8 miles. Ethan and Damian were pretty sore, and ran with Steve most of the way at a slower pace than usual. Joseph looked a lot better, and ran ahead of everyone. I actually felt pretty good too, and was not far behind. It was not our best run ever, but it was good. Nice to see Joseph looking better.

On Monday, we ran a steady 7 miles on the South Farm. After running with Kamau for a couple of miles, Joseph went off on his own for a while to do a 20 minute tempo run, then ran another 20 minutes, then he came back and finished up after the others.

On Tuesday, we went to the XC course for 16 X 400’s! Probably excessive considering we only have a week and a half before the state meet. But, they were not doing them too fast. This was one of the few days lately where I felt like Joseph actually looked better than Kamau with his 400’s, and in general, his form and general attitude was really good. If he can stay healthy for one more week, he could have a really good state meet on Nov. 5th! That is not to say that the others did not do a good job. Almost everyone did great. I was very impressed with some of the JV kids that I ran with for a change. Nathanial Houston (11th grade), Patrick Bell (8th), Issac Jackson (8th), and Clidell Sabree ran with me, and I thought this was probably their best workout ever.

Wednesday, Joseph and I ran a steady 8 miles, with mine averaging about 6:45 per mile, and Joseph probably around 6:30 per mile. Although we did not run together most of the way, I met him with a couple of miles to go and we cruised in pretty good. Our last mile was about 6:05 and it felt pretty good. The other varsity boys seemed more worn out and only ran about 6 miles, and at a much slower pace than they usually do. In fact, I could not even run with them today, they were going too slow, a pace which bothers my knees.

On Thursday, we did 12 X 200’s on the flat part of the XC course, preceded by a warmup run and followed by a 2000m cool down.  I guess you could say that today was the first day of reduced work before the state meet. Most of the guys did 200’s a little slower than usual, trying not to pull a muscle or something stupid. Pretty easy workout all in all. I mostly ran with Joseph today; albeit, a bit slower than him. We kept our breaks between the 200’s at about 20-25 seconds, with his 200’s mostly at 34 seconds. Mine were a couple of seconds slower. The other boys were running at a similar pace, although Kamau may have been faster. The girls, as usual, appeared to be going as fast as they could.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will be running an easy run at the MSU North Farm. On Saturday morn, we plan on running the Hannah Pote Run for Education at the Sportsplex on Lynn Lane in Starkville. Some of the proceeds will go to our team. You can register Saturday morning starting at 7 am. Race starts at 8 am. The 5k will be followed by a one mile fun run for kids in grades kindergarten through 6th.

This Sunday, we will be doing our run at 3 pm, and meeting at the South Farm parking area.

In other local running news, Austin White, a senior at Starkville Academy placed 5th in the MAIS State Meet with a time of 18:26!  Meggan Franks, a great runner now living in Starkville, won the Niagara Marathon last weekend with a time of 2:52! This time was good enough to move her to eighth place for Canadian women marathoners!

Starkville running is looking up these days!!!


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