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South Mississippi athletic icon achieves success in Europe

One of the most heralded distance runners ever from South Mississippi continues to achieve athletic success more than 20 years later overseas.

Pascagoula native Erin Sims captured the championship in the Masters (ages 40-44) Division of the prestigious French Throwdown Crossfit Competition at The Vélodrome National in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France recently.

“On paper, the French Throwdown was not for me. The other girls were really strong and powerful and better-suited. I just went all out and gave it my best and maybe had better luck. I managed to stay focused all weekend, I took nothing for granted, I savored every minute.” Sims said, in a Facebook post.

Sims has lived in France since relocating there about two decades ago. Her father, Larry Sims, was the longtime Recreation Director for the City of Pascagoula and both her parents were longtime educators in the Pascagoula School System. Her dad passed away in 2021 while her mother Kay still lives in Pascagoula.

“Once it was over, and time for the podium, all the emotions hit me at once. My Dad would have loved it, a good fight where the scrappy dark horse wins. I miss him terribly.” Sims added.

Sims has recently been ranked as high as 12th in the world in her division. She is so accomplished on the European Crossfit circuit that one company recently named a weight-lifting bar after her.

A 1999 graduate of Pascagoula High, she was inducted into the first-ever class of the schools Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.

She was a three-sport letterman in cross-country, track and volleyball while at PHS. She was an eight-time track and cross-country state champion, and was named Miss PHS, most beautiful and homecoming queen.

Sims was the first female in Mississippi to break the 5-minute barrier for the 1600-meter run. She earned All-American Honors in 1998 and 1999 and the Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athlete Award presented by the Mississippi High School Activities Association in 1999.

Sims accepted a track scholarship with one of the most iconic collegiate track programs in the country, the University of Texas. While in Austin she lettered from 1999-2003 in cross-country as well as indoor and outdoor track where she specialized in middle distance events and distance medley relays.

She earned All-American Honors in 2001-2003, and qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 1500-meter run. In 2001-2002 Erin was selected team MVP for cross-country and track.

She graduated with honors from the University of Texas in 2003 with a B.A. Degree in Art History, membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and recognition as an NCAA Academic All-American. She was awarded NCAA and Big 12 Conference post-graduate scholarships, as well as a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany.

She later ran professionally in Europe as a road racer, where she won numerous races in France, Germany, and Switzerland. She was also a member of the 3-woman French National 10K Championship team in 2010.

Sims was one of just seven graduating students selected to address the University of Texas Class of 2003 in front of a crowd of over 20,000 .

“Balancing academics and athletics was not a burden, but a dream,” she said.

Just as her recent win in yet another athletic endeavor was as well.

* Photo courtesy of The French Throwdown

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Written by Curtis Rockwell

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