STARKVILLE — Starkville High School cross country coach Caroline Woomer summed up the career of her senior star Kate Mattox quickly Tuesday afternoon.
“Since beginning to run cross country in seventh grade, she has lost one race,” Woomer said. “It really is amazing. All of those runs, all of those years, one loss.”
Kate Mattox was recently chosen as the Gatorade Cross Country Player of the Year for Mississippi. It was the fourth-straight year for Mattox to win that honor. Her award was officially presented during a ceremony Tuesday at the school.
“In seventh grade, I had a friend that won this award,” Kate Mattox said. “I knew this was something I wanted to win, too. I place it all in God’s hands and worked really hard at cross country. It was something that was fun and came natural. After that, I just put a lot of hard work into getting better.”
Woomer knew she had a special talent when she started working with Mattox in seventh grade. Not only was she a hard worker, Kate Mattox was being pushed by Walker Mattox, who was two grades ahead of her. Walker Mattox is a sophomore on the North Alabama cross country team.
“They always had an incredible bond,” Woomer said. “You could tell they were always there to push one another to even greater heights. It is one thing to have the talent. It is another thing to invest the time and energy to becoming even better.”
Kate Mattox, who will compete at Southern Mississippi in the fall, said cross country always came easy to her. She is also a standout on the Starkville High indoor and outdoor track and field teams.
“That is when it helps that this a family thing for us,” said Kate Mattox, who also has younger sister, Caroline, on the cross country and track teams. “When you have that time you want to slack off a little bit, somebody is there to push you. My sister (Walker) was able to get the college scholarship, so I really wanted to work hard to be in a similar position.
“I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead. In college, you are going to compete against some great athletes. That has always been my favorite thing, the challenge. It is fun going out there and using your individual skill to compete against other competitors. The competition is what makes this fun.”
Mattox will look to put finishing touches on her prep career. This weekend, Starkville High will participate in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A North State meet. Mattox will compete in the 3,200 and 1,600 meters. This year, she will add the 800.
“She is super in the classroom,” Woomer said. “She is one of the leaders on campus. She is a hard worker and a great person. She also hasn’t lost a race in track competition, either.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.