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YHS harrier future looks bright, coaches say

With the 2019 cross country season officially over, the Yukon boys and girls teams have a lot to be proud of.
With both squads making it to the 6A State Cross Country Championships last week, it almost couldn’t have gone better for a program filled with young runners.
The Yukon boys had to battle their way through a tough Norman Regional to earn a spot at state. Once there, they finished 14.
“Some of the guys, when they first saw the placing, they were a little disappointed,” Yukon boys coach Matt Parent said. “Obviously the goal is to get into the top 10. But when five of your guys run right at or better than their best, that’s all you can ask them to do.
“They did well. We didn’t finish last. There are 32 teams in the state. You guys are well ahead of last place.
“We lined up, took a few swings at them, and we’ll be back next year.”
Of Yukon’s top seven runners, the only one who will not be back next year is Kyle Crow.
The Millers will return Max Marler (freshman), Coy Pope (freshman), Tyler Birmingham (sophomore), Jonah Hanscom (sophomore), Caleb Ankrom (junior) and Cade Pope (junior).
“I had to get across to them that all but one of y’all will be back next year,” Parent said. “But what we have to work on is that our No. 1 runner is going to have to be No. 1 like everybody else’s No. 1 runner.”
The Yukon girls are pretty much in the same position as the boys. Except they have no seniors in their top group of returners and are expecting to everyone back from a unit that placed seventh.
They include Avery Stanley (sophomore), Kailan Parks (freshman), Elora Jones (junior), Rena Henson (freshman), Harper Barlow (freshman), Bri Abbott and Lydia Laverty (freshman).
“This performance I hope makes them want more,” Yukon girls coach Rodney Zimmerman said. “Everyone we ran on varsity comes back and we had some girls that were getting closer to challenging for a varsity spot.
“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.”
Because they are so young and did so well this season, the Lady Millers will be a team to keep an eye on the next few years.
Zimmerman said he saw something during the state meet that let him know they can be a force in the future.
“One thing I noticed was them competing with a purpose,” Zimmerman said. “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.”

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