By BOB CRAMER
Mustang High School’s cross-country teams ran in one of the region’s largest and most famous races Saturday.
The 31st annual Chile Pepper Festival is held at the University of Arkansas’ course in Fayetteville.
Mustang boys coach Mike McGarry said 778 male and 630 female runners were entered in the 3.1-mile race.
Gabe Simonsen, a junior and Oklahoma’s defending Class 6A champion, placed 10th in 15:48 for Mustang’s boys, who were 32nd in the team standings.
“Gabe did well. He really pushed himself,” McGarry said. “He ran a smart race.”
Simonsen had to start back in the pack, and it took him a while to move up from 20th to 10th.
“All you do the first quarter mile is try not to fall because there are so many runners,” McGarry said. “It’s not a super wide course — about 10 yards and is solid with bodies — until after the first 40 meters. It’s difficult to pass people. It’s pretty crazy.”
The 3.1-mile race is held at the Washington County fairgrounds, near the university’s experimental farm.
“It’s a hilly but fast course because the third mile is mostly downhill,” McGarry said.
Mustang’s girls team and its pacesetter, freshman Lakyn Webb, were excited about their showing. Webb ran 20:30 for 77th and the team placed 24th.
“Lakyn ran in the race as an 8th-grader, so she knew what to expect,” McGarry said. “She prepared well and improved her time from last year.
“The girls handled it well. Half of the team had their personal records. The girls were excited.
“It was the first time the varsity ran as a team like we think they will at the end of the season.”
The Lady Broncos’ Elaina Hinkle and Alex Butler placed 26th and 27th, respectfully, with 21:07 and 21:37.
Other Mustang girls results were: 216, Katie Jones, 22:00; 259, Alexis Ray, 22:31; 295, Annistyn Stanley, 22:46, and 332, Lauren Estrada, 23:15.
Kyle Bussell was the second Mustang boy to place, running 17:36 to place 243rd.
One of the Broncos’ top performers, Colton Cable, didn’t compete due to an ankle injury, McGarry said.
Other Mustang boys results: 245, Brendan Robeaux, 17:37; 260, Gunnar Sroczynski, 17:42; 297, Jaxson Pearson, 17:53; 330, Cole Robinson, 18:01; 364, Andrew Waller, 18:11, and 415, Derrick Willson, 18:25.
Mustang’s harriers next will compete Tuesday in the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference (COAC) meet at Deer Creek. The first race will begin at 9 a.m.