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Loyd Star’s Britt is state championship runner

On Thursday, Loyd Star eighth-grader Aubrey Britt strained her ankle playing basketball.

On Saturday, she outran 91 other girls to become the first-place 5K runner in 2A cross-country in Mississippi.

“I tried not to think about the pain. I could feel it, but I just chose to ignore it,” she said. “It’s better now.”

Running through the pain, the Loyd Star phenom finished the 3.1 miles in 20 minutes, 50 seconds, a full 19 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Sarah Duley, a senior from East Union. The two runners were almost even for a while, but Britt eventually pulled away and stayed away to become the 2A champion.

“I guess I did OK. I just thought about the finish line the whole way through,” she said.

Loyd Star cross-country coach Michelle Case said the school has never had a cross-country state champion before.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Aubrey’s determined spirit,” she said. “She’s a winner, and never a quitter.”

Of the 92 girls competing in 2A, Loyd Star’s Abby Thomas finished 34th with a time of 25 minutes, 20 seconds; Charleigh Barras finished 43rd with a time of 26 minutes, 38 seconds; Marley Britt finished 60th with a time of 28 minutes, 58 seconds; Adriahna McDavid finished 67th with 29 minutes, 54 seconds; and Shanna Moore finished 82nd with a time of 31 minutes, 34 seconds.

The Loyd Star girls team finished seventh out of 12 girls teams in 2A.

The Loyd Star boys did not field a team, but individually Roberto Galindo finished 23rd of 111 competitors with a time of 20 minutes, 18 seconds; Leondre Dodds finished 45th with a time of 21 minutes, 41 seconds; Luis Benividez finished 98th with a time of 25 minutes, 33 seconds; and Austin Case finished 100th with a time of 25 minutes, 35 seconds.

The West Lincoln Bears also had strong times at the championship meet, with the boys’ team finishing second of 15 2A teams, behind St. Patrick. Three of the West Lincoln boys finished in the top 10.

“We’ve had a good year, and I’m proud of all the running Bears,” said West Lincoln cross-country coach Greg Allen. “It takes a special person to be a runner. With no seniors on our team, the future looks bright.”

Of the West Lincoln boys, Tiler Castillo finished fifth with a time of 18 minutes, 50 seconds; Trevor Murray finished sixth with a time of 18 minutes, 52 seconds; Jonathan Mathis finished eighth with a time of 19 minutes, 1 second; Landon Burgess finished 25th with a time of 20 minutes, 26 seconds; Will Gary finished 34th with a time of 20 minutes, 47 seconds; Justin Pratt finished 36th with a time of 20 minutes, 56 seconds; and Noah Anderson finished 39th with a time of 21 minutes, 11 seconds.

The West Lincoln girls did not field a time, but individually Kara Beth Addison finished 12th with a time of 23 minutes, 20 seconds; Ainlsey Griffin finished 57th with a time of 28 minutes, 33 seconds; Brooke Lewis finished 70th with a time of 30 minutes, 3 seconds; and Georganna Allen finished 80th with a time of 31 minutes, 20 seconds.

The Enterprise Yellow Jackets competed in the 2A boys’ competition, finishing 14th, but the girls team was unable to make the meet. Owen Douglas finished 22nd, with a time of 20 minutes, 14 seconds; Russ Dalton finished 79th with a time of 24 minutes, 16 seconds; Ryan Amic finished 95th with a time of 25 minutes, 20 seconds; Kaleb Carithers finished 96th with a time of 25 minutes, 21 seconds; John Rivers Brown finished 97th with a time of 25 minutes, 32 seconds; Adam Brumfield finished 99th with a time of 25 minutes, 34 seconds; and Ben Ready finished 106th with a time of 28 minutes, 5 seconds.

“This year is bittersweet because this group of seniors is the core of this team,” said Enterprise coach Karen Dunaway. “I will miss their leadership and dedication.”

Dunaway hopes to recruit athletes into cross-country from other sports, and hopes those other coaches will recognize that participation in cross-country makes for all-around better athletes.

“Cross-country is the most difficult sport — you compete as a team, and as an individual and against yourself. It takes commitment,” she said. “That can be hard at smaller schools, where you have to share athletes between seasons. Sometimes kids are forced to choose one sport against another.”

In 3A competition, the Wesson Cobras placed both their teams — the girls finished 11th of 13 teams, while the boys finished 16th of 17 teams. Coach Vance Windom was pleased with his teams, who are in only their second year of competition.

“We’ve had a lot of improvement from last year and I’m proud of our kids. We will keep working during the offseason, intensify our summer workouts and keep gaining miles,” he said.

For the girl snakes, Shebi Maxwell finished 60th with a time of 30 minutes flat; Amber Brinson finished 62nd with a time of 30 minutes, 5 seconds; Meagan Jones finished 63rd with a time of 30 minutes, 19 seconds; Natalie Bonds finished 70th with a time of 31 minutes, 50 seconds; Gabriela Flores finished 71st with a time of 31 minutes, 53 seconds; Vivian McRee finished 86th with a time of 35 minutes, 49 seconds; Abby Boleware finished 87th with a time of 36 minutes, 8 seconds.

On the boys side, Cody Meredith finished 61st with a time of 22 minutes, 47 seconds; Gabe Selman finished 88th with a time of 24 minutes, 54 seconds; Logan Hux finished 103rd with a time of 26 minutes, 6 seconds; Will McInnis finished 104th with a time of 26 minutes, 7 seconds; Coleman Bonds finished 105th with a time of 26 minutes, 9 seconds; and Sam McInnis finished 117th with a time of 28 minutes, 14 seconds.

In 4A competition, Lawrence County’s Ryan Huffstutler was the only Cougar to compete. He finished 111th of 150 runners with a time of 22 minutes, 20 seconds.