By BOB CRAMER
With a trip to Arkansas and an important meet looming, Mustang’s boys and girls cross-country teams continue to see improvements.
Mustang’s harriers competed Saturday in a pre-state event at Santa Fe High School in Edmond, which will host the Class 5A-6A state meet in a month.
Mustang’s boys and defending 6A champion Gabe Simonsen were victorious at the event.
Lady Broncos’ standout Lakyn Webb also ran well, placing fifth against some of Oklahoma’s foremost talent.
Mustang’s teams will leave Friday for Fayetteville, Arkansas, to compete in the prestigious Chile Pepper Festival.
The event will be held on the University of Arkansas’ hilly course at the fairgrounds with the 3.1-mile races beginning at noon Saturday.
“The Chile Pepper is a huge regional race on a fast course,” Mustang boys coach Mike McGarry said. “Gabe will really be pushed. I think he is ready for a great run. Arkansas has a great course.”
At the pre-state in Edmond, Simonsen breezed home in 16:27.76, winning by nearly six seconds over runner-up Ruben Daniels (16:33.03) of Enid.
Both runners are juniors.
Mustang’s boys team won with 68 points. Edmond Memorial finished second with 83 points. Deer Creek’s powerful team did not participate.
McGarry was pleased with his team’s showing. Other Bronco results were: 7, Brendan Robeaux, 17:14.92; 10, Colton Cable, 17:18.47; 21, Gunnar Sroczynski, 17:32.86; 29, Jaxson Pearson, 17:47.96; 30, Andrew Waller, 17:50.81, and 35, Kyle Bussell, 18:00.60.
“Gabe had some stiff competition,” McGarry said of Simonsen. “And since it was the state course, he wanted to run really well.”
McGarry also liked the races run by his next three placers.
“Robeaux might have been off a little bit, but finishing in the top 10 was good for now,” McGarry said. “Colton also was strong again at 10th. And Gunnar, what a race! He was the runner of the day for us.”
Osborne was quite happy with the performance by Webb, the swift freshman who clocked 20:32.77.
“Lakyn’s fifth-place finish shows she has a great chance to be an all-stater” by finishing in the top 10, Osborne said. “I believe she has it in her. She is looking stronger and stronger as we move through the season.”
The Jenks girls team won with 65 points, led by first-place finisher Avery Mazzei’s 18:59.47.
Other Lady Broncos results: 25, Elaina Hinkle, 21:48.33; 44, Alexis Ray, 22:59.65; 45, Ashtyn Meck, 23:00.78; 58, Lauren Estrada, 23:40.87, and 75, Cassidy Burris, 24:28.18.
Mustang’s ladies were eighth with 171 points, and Osborne thinks they will get better.
“I’m not disappointed at placing eighth because it is not an accurate representation of where we are as a team,” Osborne said. “We were missing Katie Jones and Alex Butler, who ran in the JV race. Both of them would have been in our top five, so we would have been closer to fourth or fifth as a team.
“If we can just get them all to come together at the same time, we will be in a great spot for the state meet.”
Kevin Schwab, a 2007 Mustang High graduate, broke the Chile Pepper Festival course record running 14:44 as a sophomore in 2004.
Schwab, who ran for the Oklahoma Sooners from 2007-11 and became an All-American, held the Chile Pepper mark until 2017, when it was eclipsed by three seconds, McGarry said.
Saturday in Fayetteville, the “El Caliente” (fast) race will have about 450 runners, and the other races will total about 800 competitors, McGarry said.