The race is on: Cross country team fares well in state meet


Maclain Kennedy

Julia Stradinger sprints up the last hill as she finished her race

Clinton, MS — On October 23rd, with the slightly overcast weather, the Jackson Prep cross country team headed to Choctaw Trails to compete in the state meet. The 70-degree weather couldn’t have made for a more perfect day to run.

These athletes have been training since this summer in preparation for the state meet. This year, Julia Stradinger, a 9th grader, joined the girls’ team. Julia has been running cross country for four years now, but it was her first year at Prep.

Stradinger finished first place in the state meet for the overall Girls AAAA division. Her time was 19:40. This was a close race, with Eliza Burnham and Stradinger keeping the top two spots for most of the run. However, when it came to the last hill, competitor Sloane Vinicker from MRA was in the lead. Stradinger was close behind, and passed Vinicker in the last stride of the hill, taking the champion title. Both runners fell on the ground upon crossing the finish line, indicating a great performance.

Senior Eliza Burnham came shortly after, claiming third place. Burnham is a senior and has been running for her entire Jackson Prep career. She gave a hard effort this season and it paid off at the state meet.

Elizabeth Speed, another Jackson Prep senior, came in the top 20 for the overall meet. Speed has been running alongside Burnham throughout their years at Prep. When asked what her favorite memory was from cross country, Speed enjoyed watching Scooby-Doo live action on the car rides to the Pensacola meets.

The varsity girls team won 3rd place overall. It was clear that each runner put in their best effort on the course. With many personal records having been set this season, the runners are happy with how the season ended. “Their fitness has increased. Not only that, but they’ve learned to work as a team and have gained more race confidence,” said Lange when talking about how the team has improved.

As it came time for the boys’ race, there was a feeling of determination in the air. As they took off, Prep was in great shape. There were several Prep athletes that remained at the front of the running pack. Alex Stradinger, a junior, was among this group. Winning second place overall, Stradinger had a good run. “I saw the finish line and I knew I had to run my butt off.” Preston Speed finished not far behind Stradinger.

Each year, the senior runners get to jump in the lake at Choctaw Trails in celebration of completing their last run. This year, the water looked cold as the runners prepared to take their jump. Emison Geiger, a senior, said, “Jumping in the lake was fun because it’s a senior tradition that we were all excited about.”

Overall, Prep did outstanding in their cross-country performance this year. With several wins throughout the season both individually and as a team, the group has done a great job.