By Stan Caldwell
Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College will have another sport to offer its student-athletes beginning this fall.
Cross country will be the ninth sport that the college will offer, beginning with next fall's season. At this time, the Wildcats will only field a team in the women's division.
"We hope to have a team of about five to seven participants," said Jeff Long, director of athletics at PRCC. "As with all of our teams, we expect to compete for championships and to represent the institution in a positive way in the community."
David Johnson, who works with the PRCC campus police, will be the head coach of the cross country team, and he will be assisted by Meghan Byrd, who also serves as PRCC cheerleader coach.
"I ran some in high school, then ran when I was in the Army and at the police and fire academy," said Johnson. "I started helping out at Poplarville High as my kids have gone through the program there, and now I've gotten into distance running in a big way."
Johnson said he and Byrd will conduct an open tryout when PRCC hosts its Cheerleaders 5K run on May 26. He said he is looking for girls, either freshmen on campus who will be returning sophomores at PRCC or graduating seniors, who can cover a 5K run in around 20 minutes.
"We talked to people at Meridian and at Hinds, who are the only other junior colleges in Mississippi with cross country, to see what kind of times they used to evaluate runners, and they average about 19 to 20 minutes," said Johnson.
"So if we can find some kids who are around 21 to 22 minutes, we feel like we can train them to get their times down to around 19 or 20."
PRCC will compete in three meets in the fall and three in the spring season at locations around the Gulf South..