By Datti Jinkiri
After finishing the 2020 season with high finishes in the GSC Championships, the Mississippi College cross country teams have gotten off to a blazing start this season. Both the men’s and women’s teams opened with two straight team victories, winning both the MC Season Opener and the North Alabama Invitational.
As the two teams reach the halfway point of the regular season, multiple runners have had standout performances already. Each one of these runners will need to keep up their form if the Choctaws and Lady Choctaws are to win a GSC Championship this season.
Senior Gabe Poulin has been the early standout for the Choctaws this season. The Ruston, Louisiana native won the individual title at both the MC Season Opener and the North Alabama Invitational. He ran a career-best 8K time of 24:42.04 at the North Alabama Invitational, garnering GSC Runner of the Week honors.
Other runners have also stepped up for the team. Junior Cole Benoit tied Poulin for the 5K individual title with a time of 15:24.3 at the MC Season Opener. The trio of Christian Balcer, Hunter Kurz, and Evan Del Rio also have a pair of top-ten finishes already.
On the women’s side, junior Jazmin Hernandez has gotten off to a great start. The Georgetown, Texas native finished in second at the MC Season Opener before grabbing the individual title at the North Alabama Invitational. On Tuesday, she earned GSC Runner of the Week honors for the third time in her career.
In addition to Hernandez, 2020 First Team All-GSC selection Madeline Campbell has tallied two fourth-place finishes this season already. Freshman Josie Whipp earned GSC Freshman of the Week honors this week after grabbing a fifth-place finish in the North Alabama Invitational. Kathy Hammond, Emma Langley, and Emily Berry have also tallied a top-ten finish this season.
Both Choctaw cross country teams will be traveling to Joplin, Missouri this weekend for the Missouri Southern Stampede. The women’s race will start at 8:30 a.m on Saturday, while the men’s race will begin at 9:45 a.m.