Stanley sets pace for Yukon at state meet

Yukon’s girls’ cross country team finished seventh in the state cross country meet, which was held last weekend at Edmond Santa Fe High School. Yukon’s Avery Stanley finished 10th overall to pace the Lady Millers. Stanley also set a school record. Photo / Michael Kinney

EDMOND — As soon as the regional meet was over, Avery Stanley let it be known she was going for the record.
Even though the conditions at the Norman regional resulted in her posting a slow time, the Yukon sophomore was locked in on setting a school record at the 6A State Cross Country Championships.
In a field that consisted of the top runners in the state, Stanley was able to run a 19:31 over the 5k course to break the old school record and become the new record holder Saturday at Edmond Santa Fe.
“I think I ran pretty well,” Stanley said. “The key was starting out at a fast pace and keep that pace the whole race.”
Stanley placed 10th overall and earned a medal.
“Avery ran great,” Yukon coach Rodney Zimmerman said. “She started the race up in ninth place, I think, and fell back to around 12th or 13th and was able to get back into that top 10 to be the first all-stater we have had since I don’t know when. We haven’t had one since we went to the 5k six years ago.
“Avery also broke the school record for the 5k during the race.  So, it was a pretty unbelievable state meet for a girl who finished 82nd last year,” Zimmerman said.
Payton Hinkle of Broken Arrow won the top prize after posting a time of 18:03. She was 27 seconds ahead of second-place, Avery Mazzie of Jenks.
The Millers had a group of runners who all finished around the same time.
Kailan Parks (49th), Elora Jones (51st) and Rena Henson (52nd) all finished between 20:52 and 20:55.
Yukon took seventh overall with 207 points.
“The team did really well,” Stanley said. “We got seventh overall, and I’m pretty sure that’s the highest we’ve ever finished for a 5k in Yukon. And we’re such a young team.”
Because Parks and Henson are both freshman, this was their first taste of the state championship atmosphere.
“When we get to the freshmen, Parks and (Harper) Barlow are the same. We didn’t know what to expect from them, but they kept getting better and had great PR races,” Zimmerman said. “Henson and (Lydia) Laverty, I know a little more about and had expectations for and they both met them over the course of the season, and again raced well.”
Zimmerman said the same thing can be said for the rest of the team, as well.
“One thing I noticed was them competing with a purpose – they were working on catching individual runners as well as packs that were in front of them, and that made a big difference in how the team placed overall and will carry this group farther next year.”
Each of the Millers who competed at state will be back next season.
For Stanley, that makes Yukon one of the teams to beat.
“I think that we can accomplish a lot in the next couple of years. We have four freshman, I think, on our team, two sophomore and one junior,” Stanley said. “I think it’s very possible that we could win state my senior year or in the next couple of years. Because we have such talented young runners who will just get better as the years go on.”
But for the Millers to do that, Zimmerman knows his team will have to continue to work hard in the offseason.
“Everyone we ran on varsity comes back, and we had some girls that were getting closer to challenging for a varsity spot coming back.  We are going to want to break into that top five next year and maybe more. This group seems to respond well to high expectations. We may be looking for the top spots, and if we fall short, we will still be an even better team,” Zimmerman said.

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