During the month of May, Bryan County High School track star Mitzi Cross entered the state track meet in Albany and placed fifth in the first day of each event.
According to her coach, Cross also mentored many of the other successful team members as she led the BCHS girls’ track team. For this, Cross is named May Bryan County Athlete of the Month.
First year girls’ head coach Major Charles Davis is also Cross’s JROTC commander – where she has reached all the way to level six in her Leadership Education Training (LET).
"So it came as no surprise when she stepped right out and said ‘I want to take charge of this team.’ She didn’t actually say those words, but she said it through her actions, and she did lead the team," Davis said. "She not only performed the best, but she mentored many of our younger athletes. She played a huge part in freshman Kimberly Williams’ medal-winning performance at state."
Davis called Cross his "strongest athlete" and said he will miss her dearly next year – in the field and the classroom.
Her father, Charles Cross, has attended nearly every one of his daughter’s sporting contests through the years. He said her recent track performances have been some of the finest displays of her talent.
"When she finished the 100 meter race at the region meet, she threw up her hands in the air and gave a big smile because she knew she was going to state – which was her goal," her dad said. "Then she turned around and qualified for the 200 too. She had a great year in track and basketball. I’m really proud of her."
Cross started in rec softball at the age of seven.
"Mitzi’s success in sports started at Hendrix Park when she played basketball with the boys," former coach Johnnie Miller said. "It just got better from there. She excelled in middle school basketball and played on the high school varsity team since she was a freshman. She’s just a great athlete in both track and basketball."
Cross picked up track in her freshman year of high school. Said she has played many sports, but track is her sport of choice.
Cross said this year’s track season was harder than past years because it was first without her sister. She said they were very competitive and that competing with her sister "set my limits."
Her sister, Liz Cross, won numerous top honors – including Bryan County Athlete of the Month – before graduating last year.
"We’ve played on the same sports teams forever," Liz Cross said. "We’ve competed with each other which makes it harder for somebody else to compete with us."
"It only helps having Liz for a sister," Miller said. "Those two were running track or playing ball when other girls their age were playing with dolls. They virtually lived at Hendrix Park."
As a freshman, in her first year of track, the Cross sisters went to state together as part of a relay team.
"This year, she wanted to step out of the shadow of her sister and show what she could do," Davis said. And boy she did just that."
Outside of sports, Cross is involved with two choirs at Mt. Moriah and recently conducted a solo for the Mt. Moriah graduation program. She is also involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group and helping with youth programs at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
"She is just a very good girl," Miller said. "Good with academics, good with helping people in our community, good in athletics. She volunteers at the senior center and nursing home and does projects for them at Christmas."
Cross hasn’t completely decided which college to attend, but she does know that she plans to join the track team wherever she lands. She is leaning toward Georgia Southern. She also plans to continue in the collegiate JROTC program as she works toward her ultimate goal of becoming a military nurse.
Meanwhile, Liz is contemplating transferring from Armstrong to Georgia Southern – which could potentially reunite the sports duo.
Honorable mention: RHHS track star David Cassidy.
For a photographic history of all the past Bryan County Athlete of the Month Award winners, click here: http://community.bryancountynews.net/gallery/detail/67/