Winning an event in one track meet is good, but winning that same event in every meet during a season is special.
That is what Yukon Middle School eighth-grade student Avery Stanley did this spring. Avery won the mile race in all six middle school track meets the Yukon Middle School track team went to this season.
Avery’s best time in the mile race was 5:50. She took first place at Duncan, the Chisholm Trail Invitational at Yukon High School, Seminole, Putnam City West, the Yukon Middle School Sundowner, and the Metro Middle School Conference meet.
Avery started running early in her seventh-grade year. She first went out for the cross country and track teams that year and her coaches saw something special in her.
“We just kept saying this Avery girl is good,” Yukon Middle School cross country and track coach Brandon Cromwell said. “It didn’t take us long to realize she is a special talent. She just kept getting better and stronger and she has taken off this year.”
Avery said she enjoys running long distances rather than short distances.
“I like running long distances more because I am better at them than I am at the short distances,” Avery said.
Avery also competes in the 800-meter run and the 3,200-meter relay.
On top of running cross country and track, Avery plays soccer. She said she plans on doing both soccer and track in the spring at the high school level.
“I want to play both soccer and run track,” Avery said. “I know there are some girls who are doing that now and I want to do both.”
Most athletes have a different mindset when they are in competition. Avery is no different.
“I just keep thinking to myself that I need to keep going and never give up,” Avery said. “I can hear everyone yelling at me, so that motivates me to go faster and keep going.”
Avery said she has had meets where she has to come from behind to win the mile race or when she is in the lead the entire time.
“I enjoy passing people,” Avery said. “It depends on the race. If we start out and people are going slow, I will just pass them and stay in front but if people are going hard at the start, I know they are going to get tired and I pace myself and pass them later.”
Cromwell said he has never coached a runner like Avery in his career.
“She is the smartest runner I have ever coached,” Cromwell said. “She runs against the field and not her time. She gets the feel for the competition and then develops a game plan in that first lap. She races the field and once she sees a weakness, she exploits it. Her best time this year is 5:50 but it could be a lot better if she was running against her time and not so much against her competition.”
Avery said it’s a good feeling to know she was the top mile runner in every meet this spring.
“It feels good to win because I know I am pushing myself,” Avery said. “I am looking forward to competing at the high school level because I know I will have someone to push me. I want to win multiple state championships because that means I will not only be competing against older people, but also beating them.”
Even though she is still in middle school, Avery said she has aspirations of taking her talents to the collegiate level.
“That thought has definitely crossed my mind,” Avery said. “I do want to do this in college. I think that would be incredible.”
Cromwell said he is excited to watch Avery’s future and see where she can go with her talents.
“I have really high hopes for her,” Cromwell said. “I predict that she will bring home several state championships at the next level, both in the relay races and the individual races. She has been a pleasure to coach and I am sad that it is over. She is not only really athletic but she is mentally tougher than any other athlete I have ever coached.”