By Brody Feldmann
EDMOND– Mustang cross country took to the trails on Saturday at the 6A Oklahoma Cross Country State Championships at Edmond Santa Fe.
The boys team went into the day with a chance to walk away as champions. It was going to end up between Mustang, Deer Creek and Owasso.
Going into this season, coach Mike McGarry had a goal of getting the boys back on the podium, which is the top three teams in the state.
Mustang did just that on Saturday with a third-place finish, scoring 104 team points. The Broncos finished behind Deer Creek and Owasso. The Broncos had something neither one of those teams had, an individual state champion in Gabe Simonsen.
“It is awesome. We worked really hard all season,” Simonsen said.
Simonsen went into the meet knowing there were two runners that he had to stay up with to give himself a chance at the finish line, Steven Clark of Deer Creek and Parker Jackson of Edmond North.
“It felt relieving. I knew it was going to hurt, but I just had to push through it,” Simonesen said.
Simonsen nosed out Clark at the Mustang Harrier meet earlier in the season, and Clark and Jackson ran away from Simonsen and the rest of the pack at the conference meet. So, Simonsen had seen both sides of the spectrum of what could happen.
But, on this unusually hot October day Simonsen let the other two set the tone and he sat back waiting for his time to kick it in late in the race. With less than 200 yards remaining, Simonsen kicked it into high gear and got around Clark, as Jackson fell back to 12th place, defeating the Antler by the largest margin of the year… seven tenths of a second.
“I was feeling really good and knew that I had it,” said Simonsen about turning the last corner and being within arm’s reach of first place.
Winning the state championship puts Simonsen on pace to tie one of the best runners in Mustang history and arguably in Oklahoma history, Kevin Schwab, a 2007 graduate.
Simonsen is the sixth state champion in Mustang High School history, three boys and three girls. He is the first boys’ champion since Schwab won it in 2006.
Senior Parker Huckabay came on strong late in the season and finished with a bronze medal and with All-State status with a time of 16:36.4
Antonio Cervantes, was another senior on the team, finished with a time of 17:01.6 and a 16th place finish.
In 24th place was Brendan Robeaux with a time of 17:15.5 and Parker Arnold rounded out the Broncos’ top five with a 65th-place finish and a time of 18:01.7. Mustang had a lone displacer in Kyle Bussell with an 86th-place finish and a time of 18:27.1.
The Lady Broncos had a goal of finishing in the top 10 at the state meet, but they missed out on that goal by 13 points.
“I am proud of all of them and how they did,” said girls head coach Greg Osborne.
But the Lady Broncos had one runner earn All-State status with Jordan Thayer finishing in ninth place as a senior with a time of 20:10.3.
“It is very exciting because last year I would have never thought I would be in this position that I am right now. Especially undergoing all of the surgeries that I’ve had on my legs. I would never see myself here, and this is something I would have never imagined,” said Thayer.
Elaina Hinkle finished in 35th place with a time of 21:05.9, while Heidi Askeland ran a 22:20.2 for a 71st place finish.
To round out the Lady Broncos top five was Alexis Ray in 77th place and a time of 22:28.3 and Rachel Hamel in 87th place with a time of 22:52.5.
Mustang’s displacers were Aisha Leonard, right behind Hamel, in 88th with a time of 22:52.8 and Annistyn Stanley in 94th place with a time of 23:00.5.
“I am very proud of my team. We did go through a lot of trial and error. We had some doubt in ourselves about if we would make it here. But, we had to come together as a team and push ourselves to get here,” said Thayer.
The Lady Broncos did achieve their main goal of the season, that was to extend the streak of appearances at the state meet to 23 years.
“The fact that we made state again, that was the accomplishment. That is what I told them before they ran today, they; just need to enjoy today,” said Osborne.