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Starkville High School will experience a first this weekend when the school hosts a cross country meet at the Mississippi State Horse Park.
The Yellowjackets welcome 13 teams for the meet that is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Some of the squads scheduled to participate are defending Class 6A state champion Tupelo, defending 5A champion Pearl, along with West Lauderdale, Clinton and Madison Central.
SHS cross country coach Caroline Woomer said the circuit just happened to have a few open dates this season which allowed the opportunity for her program to jump in and fill one of those with its own event.
With the encouragement and support of Stan Miller, the school's Athletic Director, the Jackets pursued the possibility of hosting the meet.
"We took an open weekend, called around, asked everyone if that was a good weekend for them and threw invitations out to host our first cross country invitational," Woomer said. "Hopefully in the future, we will be on the circuit for everyone and they'll save a weekend for Starkville."
Since it's the first time to host, Woomer said things will be kept simple, but acknowledges the fact that Mississippi State hosting a Homecoming football game against UAB helped in creating interest.
"When we talked about the meet throughout the season, different schools said they were going to buy Homecoming tickets and they were going to the game so that was perfect," Woomer said.
According to cross country booster club president Robin Remotigue, one of the parents designed a t-shirt that will be given to the top finishers of the race. The t-shirts are being sponsored by Dr. James Brown at the Eye & Laser Center of Starkville and Callaway Orthodontics. Coca-Cola has also contributed to the meet.
"It's a really big deal for our school to be moving forward like this and hosting a meet," Remotigue said. "Mississippi State is lending their course for us to use. We went out there as booster parents and team members and helped them get the course ready when they hosted their meet in September so as a returned favor, they are letting us use their course."
Some of the runners Starkville looks to produce in not only Saturday's meet, but also the Class 6A state meet at Choctaw Trails in Clinton on Nov. 6 are Joseph MacGown, Kamau Bostic, Damien Grady, Grant Woomer, Nathan Ball on the boys side and Walker Mattox and Anna Jackson on the girls side.