The Hornets and Hickory Flat finished the regular meet in a first place tie with 48 points. JFK’s average time of 18:32.92 in the 5K race was actually a little higher than the average time of 1:32.56.40 posted by Hickory Flat, but Hickory Flat won the tiebreaker to take home the state championship banner as its sixth runner finished 26th while JFK’s sixth runner finished 30th. The top five runners on each team are taken to figure in the points for the team results.
“I’m very proud of them,” JFK head cross country coach Linda Allen said. “I just want to say this year has been an exciting year for the John F. Kennedy boys.”
John F. Kennedy’s senior Octavius Taylor finished second in the individual race with a time of 17:43.9 finishing just under 39 seconds behind Myrtle freshman Marquez Howell who won the event with a time of 17:05.
The second place finish for Taylor is particularly huge considering the fact that he plays football every Friday night. Taylor had 18-yard reception in JFK’s game against Broad Street the night before.
“He was dedicated this year to both sports,” Allen said. ‘We would play on Friday night and then he would come with his teammates and give 100 percent on Saturday. He and the rest of his teammates knew if they work together as team no one would beat them.”
Senior Deion Warren placed seventh (18:35.5) and senior Keenon Bady finished eighth (18:36.2) to round out the top 10 finishers for the Hornets.
Junior Jaylen Tillman (18:53, 15th), eighth grader Cedric Gardner (18:56, 16th), freshman Khalil Strickland (19:49.8, 30th) and sophomore Nakia O’Bryant (21:35.1, 58th) also ran great times for the Hornets.
“To have a group like this group and show the chemistry of working as a unit and never quitting and never giving up, I was just blessed to have these guys,” Allen added.
The performance by the JFK cross country team is another great example of the kind of season its sports programs have had this fall. The junior high football team went a perfect 8-0 and high school football team is currently 8-3 and will be hosting a first round playoff game in the 1A State Playoffs on Friday against Hamilton in Mound Bayou.
“You don’t just want to win in one area,” JFK athletic director Sheldon Hodge said. “You want to be recognized in all sports. We definitely want to be recognized as having a quality program.”