Caroline Mattox chooses to run at Mississippi State

Caroline Mattox of Starkville High School and her family celebrated her signing with Mississippi State to run cross country.

Staff Writer

There are two pair of running shoes that were quite large for Caroline Mattox to fill growing up.

First there was older sister Walker. who started a running tradition after the girls’ mom wanted her oldest to join the team. She earned a scholarship at North Alabama where she runs. Kate followed and racked up state championships as a do-it-all runner before heading off to Southern Miss to break some school records as a true freshman last season.

Caroline has been making her own name since her seventh grade year. She had aspirations of being a soccer player before realizing just how natural running distance was to her. She’s now a five-time All-State runner and signed her National Letter of Intent to join Mississippi State’s cross country team this week as she chose to stay home over the opportunity to go to Hattiesburg with Kate.

Starkville High School track coach Meggan Franks is in her second season with Mattox but has seen enough to know the impact she’s left on the program.

“It helps to have hard-working athletes in leadership roles and ones that can balance," Franks said. "She’s got great balance and is really motivated. She’s had some difficulty with injuries so I’m very proud of her for battling through that. She has been a tremendous athlete for Starkville High School.”

Mattox has spent the last few months recovering from surgery that set her back. The senior runner had to have a bone removed from her Achilles which caused her to miss last cross country season.  That was a loss for the Yellow Jackets with their best runner out, but she still made her impact. One track athlete spoke at Mattox’s signing about how influential she was in her particular career to push her to her limit and get the best out of her.

That’s some of the same that Caroline’s family has seen from her as she has never backed down from a challenge.

“If she wants it, she’s going to get it,” Caroline’s sister Kate said. “She wanted to be an SEC runner and she made it. It’s a testament to the will she has. She’s a grinder.”

At MSU, Caroline is set to run distance and cross country for the Bulldogs. State is a place she’s always dreamed of running. She chose MSU over USM because “it just felt like home.”

While Franks didn’t influence Caroline directly with her affiliation with the Bulldogs as a former State runner herself, she has been a tremendous addition to Starkville’s program, according to her star senior, and now the recent trend of talented SHS runner to the University up the street continues as the development strengthens.

“We have great coaches," Mattox said. "Meggan coming in was awesome and she helped us out so much,” Mattox said. “State is a great school and I feel like a lot of people here have really liked it there. We’ve wanted to continue our athletics and academics career there.”