It was a cross-country course unlike Mustang High’s teams had seen all season. And it’s nothing like they’ll see Saturday at the state meet.
Mustang’s harriers competed in the Class 6A East Regional at Sand Springs. MHS’ boys team won, and the Lady Broncos finished fourth behind champion Jenks.
“The course had tall grass, holes, downhill mud, two creek crossings, and we think it was a little long,” Mustang boys coach Mike McGarry said of the 3.1-mile course at Case Community Park.
“It was the first time we’ve had creek crossings. It made the race more like a cross-country race from 75 years ago,” he said.
Lady Broncos coach Greg Osborne was envious of his team. He likes running on courses with natural obstacles, he said.
“The temps were perfect for running, and the rain held off for us, but the course was a true cross-country course,” Osborne explained. “The runners had to actually run through water while crossing creek beds multiple times, then practically climb up the other side.”
MHS’ teams were reassigned to the East Regional by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to balance the statewide talent level.
Bronco junior Gabe Simonsen, the defending 6A champion, ran 16:25.64 on the slow, wet course to place first nearly 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Spencer Hales (16:45.85), a senior from Bartlesville.
“Gabe is probably the favorite,” McGarry said, “but he knows there will be someone who maybe has held back that will push him at state. Our job is to make sure he knows that.”
McGarry said he was pleased with how junior Kyle Bussell (15th, 17:38.88) and senior Gunnar Sroczynski (22nd, 17:54.01) competed.
“Kyle Bussell ran his best race of the year and we are excited about what he will do,” McGarry said. “Ditto for Gunnar.”
Other MHS boys results: 10, Brendan Robeaux, 17:23.64; 18, Colton Cable, 17:50.03; 26, Jaxson Pearson, 18:10.01, and 27, Andrew Waller, 18:11.13.
Mustang freshman Lakyn Webb ran 20:40.66 to finish sixth in a strong field.
Broken Arrow’s Payton Hinkle placed first in 19:05.04 and Avery Mazzei, of Jenks, was second in 19:23.44. Both are sophomores.
Lakyn just (never) ceases to impress me every week,” Osborne said. “I love watching her run. She had more competition in the east, so sixth place was fantastic for a freshman.”
Osborne’s expectation for Webb is that she finish in the top 10 at state and be an all-stater. Her top time of the season was 19:46 on Oct. 15 when she placed third in the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference meet.
“I actually think Lakyn ran better than she did at conference,” Osborne said, alluding to the slow course and its obstacles.
Osborne was pleased with the Lady Broncos’ team effort, especially sophomore Alexis Ray, who ran 22:04.10 to place 31st.
“Everybody ran well, but I’m particularly proud of Alexis Ray,” he said, noting she probably could’ve bested her personal record on a normal course.
Osborne added, “This was the first time I felt like we really competed as a team. We are healthy and we’re running together. That is essential if we want to be successful this week.”
Other MHS girls results were: 27, Katie Jones, 21:56.79; 30, Elaina Hinkle, 22:03.88; 39, Alex Butler, 22:25.14; 44, Annistyn Stanley, 22:41.18, and 61, Aisha Leonard, 23:52.06.
STATE MEET LOOMS
The Class 6A state meet will be held on Edmond Santa Fe’s course. The girls race starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and boys at 10:45. The awards ceremony is at 11 a.m.
McGarry thinks Deer Creek is the favorite for the boys team title. Hales and West Regional winner Aj Antonelli (16:42) of Deer Creek are among the challengers to Simonsen’s championship defense.
Last season, Simonsen ran 16:22 to claim the state title at Edmond Santa Fe, McGarry said.
Jenks and Deer Creek rate as favorites for the girls team crown, Osborne said.
Among the favorites for the 6A girls individual title are Payton Hinkle, Mazzei and West Regional winner Annabel White (20:24) of Westmoore.