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After hours and hours worth of hard work and training, the Starkville High cross country team is ready to run when it counts. Finally, the Yellowjackets will get their chance.
Led by head coach Caroline Woomer, Starkville is anxious to compete in Tupelo today.
"We are so ready for a race," said Woomer. "Just mentally, we feel like it's time to compete and see where we are."
Several returnees and newcomers highlight Woomer's squad.
Senior Nathan Ball, who has been SHS's top runner for two years running, will be back in the mix for the boys team. Other senior boys returning for the Jackets include Davis Josey, Hudson Woomer, and Andrew Moorehead.
Jonnel Ward, who has competed with Starkville in the past, will also be rejoining the Jackets this year.
Meg Giesemann is the lone senior on the girls team, but she will be joined by the returning Ashley Albritton and Mary Elizabeth Stringer.
Besides her veteran runners, Woomer says the Jackets have also welcomed plenty of new talent into the fold.
"We're very excited about our new runners that have come in from other schools," said Woomer.
Highlighting Starkville's first-year runners are Kamau Bostic, and Starkville Academy transfer Joseph Macgown.
Many of these athletes trained over the summer months by participating in cross country camps and group track events. Others swam, played soccer, or ran on their own.
Regardless of the method chosen to stay active, the Jackets' summer work has fueled Woomer's excitement for the upcoming year as she has already seen results from those who put in extra time while school was out.
"We've noticed that we're further along conditioning-wise than we normally are just because they did work in the summer," said Woomer. "Definitely as a team, it's improved their conditioning and their mileage already, so we're all really ready for this."