Bulldogs ready to take on hills at state cross country meet

Published 2:53 pm Thursday, November 4, 2021

NATCHEZ — As a cool drizzle fell, Natchez High School Cross Country runners moved into the gym to continue their preparations for the MHSAA State Meet at Choctaw Trails. The starting gun will fire Monday in Clinton at 11 a.m. for the girls team and 11:45 a.m. for the boys.

Head coach Larry Wesley said about 150 quality runners will compete in the race. All of the Bulldogs running in the race are sophomores who have run with him since seventh grade. His hope is for them to compete on a course they do not particularly enjoy.

“Choctaw Trails, they do not like that course,” Wesley said. “They have a new course director. They have a new course route so we see the kids more. It makes them run better because people can see them and give them more energy.”

In past years, Natchez could have taken the whole team to the state meet but Wesley said the MHSAA changed the rules and runners must qualify to compete. Jadarius Nelson was the only boy to qualify for the race. Natchez’s girls team qualified Racheal Wesley, Zanti Isaac, Kalisa White and Ariel Anderson.

White ran at Natchez for a year before moving to Texas in April of 2019 and came back to Natchez this past July. She is a short distance runner and typically competes in the 100 and 200 meter dashes or relays. Cross Country is a way for her to get in shape for indoor and outdoor track season. Nearly a week before the race she is already nervous, she said.

“I’m nervous because it is a state meet,” White said. “Everyone is going to be watching me. I’m nervous about the hills. It has more hills. They mess you up because you have to run up and down.”
Wesley is excited because it is her second time to run at state. COVID took away her opportunity to run last year. “I’m excited about the running and seeing if my time has changed from the other meets,” she said. “It is one of my favorites. I like running up the hills and seeing nature. It is hard but I like the challenge of it.”

Nelson said he feels like the team is ready to take on the state meet.

“I like running in the cool. I have a good time running in it,” Nelson said. I can’t say the same thing for my teammates though. We have past experiences running the Natchez Trace when it was storming, so we have experience in running in the cool and the rain. We are ready.”