Gabe Simonsen has been on a mission.
The Mustang runner has attacked his final year of high school cross-country with an intense dedication.
That mindset has paid off for the MHS senior as he has racked up the meet titles in 2020.
“I just try to have a lot of fun doing this, especially this year after track getting canceled,” Simonsen said. “It just shows how I can’t take things for granted and you just have to come out here and have fun every time.”
Mustang coach Mike McGary has seen the difference in mindset for Simonsen in the way he competes and practices.
“He’s all in. He’s ready to go,” McGary said. “He’s worked hard. These guys haven’t got to race since March 10. … They want to get out and run and they can’t, so it’s been frustrating for everybody.”
After missing an entire track season, it might have been easy for Simonsen to just ease into cross-country. However, he did the opposite.
“I feel pretty good. I felt really fit and I feel way more fit than last season,” Simonsen said. “I feel like I’m really consistent this year.”
Simonsen had not lost a race this season, despite facing some strong competition almost every week. That streak came to an end Saturday at the OK Runner Classic in Norman.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the meet was split into four different groups to spread out the large field and the fan base.
Mustang was in Group B and Simonsen easily coasted to through the finish line first with a time of 16:11.37. He was followed in second place by teammate Brendan Robeaux, who was eight seconds behind.
However, the top time of the day went to David Boulander of Westmoore.
He ran a 16:09 to win Group A.
He was two seconds faster than Edmond Memorial’s Josh Cherry.
So while Simonsen officially took third at the meet, he still has yet to see anyone cross the finish line ahead of him.
“I ran pretty good. I was pretty tired,” Simonsen said. “I hit a lot of miles this week so I was trying to just train through the meet. Taking it easy, mainly just focusing on state this year.”
Simonsen has a month before the postseason begins and believes he has a chance to go undefeated on the season. He said the keys will be to stay consistent and healthy.
McGary is even more confident.
“These runners were warming up for a meet and a couple of guys were saying, “Well, how do you beat Gabe Simonsen?” I was running by him, and probably a cocky remark I shouldn’t have said. I just was in that mood and I jogged by him. I said, “Give up.” There’s some guys that’ll push him at state for sure,” McGary said. “But I think he’s got it under control. If he stays healthy, does the things that he’s been doing, he’s going to do well at state. I’ll just put it that way.”