August 30, 2010 9:41:00 AM
TUPELO -- Anticipation was high in the Starkville High School cross country camp entering Saturday''s season opener.
The Yellow Jackets didn''t disappoint.
Starkville''s boys finished second in the Tupelo Cross Country Invitational, finishing behind the host team in the Class 4A-6A run.
Starkville assistant coach Joe MacGown was exited about the meet, believing the Yellow Jackets made strides in closing the gap between themselves and Tupelo.
MacGown''s son, Joseph, was one of five Jackets to finish in the top 25 and two to finish in the first five. MacGown took fifth at 17 minutes and 42 seconds in the 5K race, and junior transfer Kamau Bostic was fourth at 17 minutes and 39 seconds.
"We are very excited to have Kamau Bostic and Joseph MacGown with us this year and they both ran good first races," Starkville head coach Caroline Woomer said. "Our varsity boys team has really developed close bonds already, running together and motivating one another."
The younger MacGown''s time is the second best of any freshman in the state, his father said. The former Starkville Academy runner and Mississippi Association of Independent Schools state runner up hopes to break the 17-minute mark this season. He and Bostic have a shot to eclipse the mark this season, though only two 6A runners broke the barrier at last year''s state meet.
Still, both Bostic and MacGown''s times would have earned top10 finishes at the 2009 state meet.
Starkville senior Nathan Ball took 14th on his 18th birthday, crossing the line at 18:26.
Sophomores Aaron Remotigue and Damien Grady took 23rd and 25th, respectively, with marks of 19:08 and 19:12.
Meanwhile, with a pair of eighth graders and one freshman competing for the Starkville girls, a fifth-place result was a solid start to the season.
Especially when one of those junior high runners turned in the team''s best time.
Walker Mattox finished 18th with a 17:41 clip, 57 seconds ahead of teammate Anna Jackson, who was 24th at 18:38.
Junior Ashley Albritton was two seconds behind Jackson in 25th.
Woomer was excited about the result, considering No. 1 runner Mary Elizabeth Stringer missed the meet as she''s recovering from a month-long bout with shin splints.
"Our varsity girls didn''t have their leader Mary Elizabeth Stringer, but they had solid runs as well," Woomer said. "Walker Mattox led the pack with a 17:41, which is a great time for the first race of the season.
"Anna Jackson and Ashley Albritton ran back to back and pushing each other to perform at their best."
Tupelo won the 4K meet and Pontotoc, Saltillo and Oxford rounded out the top four ahead of Starkville.
Meghan Wolf was 35th at 20:41 and Sabrina Moore was 36th at 20:46 to round out the top five for Starkville.
Starkville returns to action Sept. 11 at the Delta State Cross Country Invitational.