EDMOND — For Mustang High junior runner Gabe Simonsen, it was just another day at the office.
Simonsen’s office, of course, is wherever he runs and on Saturday, it was the season’s biggest show — the Class 6A state cross-country championships at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
Simonsen defended his state title in the 3.1-mile race (5,000 meters), crossing the finish line in 15:39.89 to win by nearly 24 seconds over Bartlesville senior Spencer Hales (16:02.53).
“I’m happy even though I didn’t get the time I wanted to hit,” said Simonsen, explaining his goal was being 20 seconds faster. Nonetheless, it was still six seconds faster than his personal record (PR).
Nobody challenged Simonsen and he was able to put it on cruise control while enjoying the windless 40-degree conditions.
“Going in today, I’d raced everyone in it before,” he said. “I was going to set the pace and push it to the end.”
Mustang boys coach Mike McGarry said Simonsen did just that, running “his race on a fast course” against the event’s other 111 competitors.
“Gabe is a smart runner. He’s had it thought out all year long,” McGarry said. “He wanted to push it today, not leave it to a sprint and get outkicked” at the finish.
Mustang’s veteran coach said Simonsen’s time was 43 seconds faster than a year ago when he captured his first state championship on this course.
Simonsen said that after Thanksgiving he will begin preparing for outdoors track and field season. He competes in the mile and two-mile races (1,600 and 3,200 meters).
“I’m definitely going to hit it harder with training and competing,” said Simonsen, who was ill at last season’s state track meet and unable to finish in the two miles.
Deer Creek won the boys team title with 47 points, running away from Westmoore (85), Edmond Memorial (93) and Mustang (130).
“We wanted to get on the podium,” McGarry said of finishing in the top three. “They were disappointed. It’s difficult when you have four guys who haven’t run before in the state meet. Today wasn’t our best race.”
Juniors Brendan Robeaux (17:00.72) and Colton Cable (17:03.63, PR by 15 seconds) were Mustang’s next placers, finishing 31st and 34th, respectively.
Other Mustang boys results were: 40, Kyle Bussell, 17:11.56 (PR by 25 seconds); 45, Gunnar Sroczynski, 17:15.29 (PR by 10 seconds); 54, Andrew Waller, 17:23.30 (PR by 27 seconds), and 61, Jaxson Pearson, 17:27.87 (PR by 8 seconds).
Broken Arrow’s Payton Hinkle ran 18:03.44 to win the girls individual title, finishing ahead of Jenks’ Avery Mazzei (18:30.67). Both are sophomores.
Jenks captured the girls team championship with 53 points, easily outdistancing Owasso (91) and Deer Creek (137). Mustang and Sapulpa tied for fourth with 189 points.
Lakyn Webb paced the Lady Broncos, running 20:00.35 for 25th place. She was the fourth freshman to finish.
“A top 25 finish for a freshman is fantastic,” Mustang girls coach Greg Osborne said.
Webb was disappointed with her performance.
“I didn’t do the greatest,” she said. “I thought I could do better. Today just wasn’t my race, but it’s a good start for next season.”
Osborne felt Webb was being too critical of her effort.
“She sets high goals and does what she needs to in reaching them,” Osborne said. “She has a great work ethic.
“That’s a super-fast course, so to run 14 seconds off her personal record (19:46) is not negative at all.”
Osborne said the Lady Broncos tied for fourth place with Sapulpa because sophomore Alexis Ray ran faster than the Chieftains’ sixth runner. That earned Mustang three additional points.
A schools’ sixth and seventh runners earn their teams three extra points to break a deadlock if teams are tied in the standings.
Osborne was pleased that five of Mustang’s competitors ran PRs, helping the youthful team improve on last year’s 11th-place finish.
Other Mustang girls results were: 34, Elaina Hinkle, 20:25.60 (PR by 42 seconds); 38, Katie Jones, 20:32.65 (PR by 25 seconds); 57, Alex Butler, 21:04.05 (PR by 34 seconds); 71, Annistyn Stanley, 21:28.50 (PR by 38 seconds); 75, Alexis Ray, 21:40.09, and 86, Aisha Leonard, 22:56.88 (PR by 25 seconds).