Cathedral looks to defend its cross-country state title Tuesday

Published 12:59 am Monday, October 23, 2017


NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School cross country coach Tommy Smith is running out of attainable goals for his team to shoot for, forcing him to get slightly creative.

After placing first in four of its seven meets this season, the Green Wave will look to defend its boys overall title Tuesday as it travels to Clinton for the MAIS AAA state championship at Choctaw Trails at Mississippi College.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s been a heck of season. It really has,” Smith said. “They are pretty hyped. They know they have done the work. Nothing inspires the kids like 12 months of training for a state championship.

“I tell them all the time, whatever the accomplishment, you have to readjust your goals.”

After claiming last year’s championship, Cathedral returned every single one of its runners.

Smith said 20 boys are slated to travel Tuesday, lead by its front five, Jalen McCoy, Ryan Skates, Hayes Daly, Cade Miller and Will Vaughan.

They are set to run at 12:30 p.m.

On its list of accomplishments this year, Smith said, was to defeat the two teams that had defeated Cathedral last year — Jackson Academy and Presbyterian Christian.

“When you run out of standard goals, the only thing you can do is think of other things,” he said. “We did it except for Presbyterian Christian beat us in the first meet, but we have beaten them every time after that.”

Cathedral’s strongest point and a further development from last year’s team, Smith said, is its depth.

Last Monday at its home meet at Duncan Park, all five of the Green Wave’s fastest runners placed within the top 15 out of approximately 75 runners.

“We have really strong boys 9 or 10 down,” he said. “A lot of teams struggle to find a strong fifth man. It pays to have depth, and it brings strength to you program.

“My big thing is trying to work the younger ones. The sport is evolved so much in the seven years I’ve been here. I know that the quality and level of runners and competition has risen significantly.”

Cathedral will also bring seven girls to the state meet, with a run time slated for noon.

Also running at noon will be 12 members of the Adams County Christian School girls cross country team.

Last week at Duncan Park, ACCS coach Jheri Dupre Ogden said all of her girls ran personal bests.

“They had the best run of the season,” she said. “I’m hoping to taking momentum in the state meet. I’m really excited about our girls.

“They have shown a lot of growth and since the beginning of the season, they have just taken off.”

As a program, Ogden — in her first year heading the team — said she is pleased with how the girls team is developing since all members are in eighth grade or below.

“I feel like we are in good place,” she said. “It’s been a good foundation.”

Ogden said she expects both ACCS eighth grader Rebecca Ratcliff and senior runner Austin Heard to have top ten finishes Tuesday.