The Altus High School cross country teams entered their third month of competition, but with several of their top runners battling injuries, a team title had been just out of their grasps — until Friday.
At the Cameron University Invitational on Friday, the Lady Bulldogs were in top form as they ran away from the competition and into their first team title this season.
Cayden Beckner — who has had a stellar season — earned her fifth consecutive individual title by posting a time of 20:10 on the 5K course. Beckner — who has been dominating the western half of Oklahoma all season — continued her run at the top while Beth Garrison seemed to regain some of her form to finish second with a time of 21:47.
Garrison has been battling an ankle injury for much of the season, but she showed improvement in Lawton on Friday to help lead the Lady Bulldogs past Putnam City and Chickasha.
Also on the course was Olga Lopez who finished third with a time of 22:05 and Sarah Scott who finished fourth with a time of 22:22.
For the first time this season, the Lady Bulldogs were able to finish with four of their runners placing in the top five. Outside of the top five but still adding points to the Lady Bulldogs’ total score was Anna Merritt and Alison Nichols who finished 10th and 14th, respectively.
Now the fifth-ranked Lady Bulldogs turn their attention to the Altus Cross Country Invitational scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today before hitting the road for the Class 5A West Regional Meet in Norman on Oct. 21.
“We’re doing pretty good right now,” Coach Rick Pattersonsaid, “we’ve just got to stay focused for the next few weeks and get ready for a tough regional meet.”
For the Bulldogs, Ryan Oden continued to show why he is Altus’ top runner with a second-place finish with a time of 17:33 on the 5K course.
Oden’s times have steadily improved all season and have helped the Bulldogs stay in contention. His time at the Cameron Invitational led the Bulldogs to a third-place finish behind Marlow and Putnam City.
Jessie Benitez added an 11th place finish with a time of 18:30 while Jon Wathen and Michael James finished 17th and 18th for the Bulldogs. Rounding out the scorers for Altus was Calvin Wagoner who finished 27th and Macel Canterbury who finished 36th.
Other finisher for the Bulldogs and their places were Alan Palestino (37th), Matt McCollum (52nd), Jose Martinez (61st) and Rafael Ramos (66th).
“The boys are trying hard but we’ve had some injuries and we need to get over those so that we can compete,” Patterson said.
The seventh ranked Bulldogs will compete at the Altus Invitational before heading to Norman on Oct. 21. Both teams will find out their competition at Regionals later this week.
The Altus Junior High cross country teams also competed at Cameron and closed out their season with the Lady Dawgs finishing fifth behind Anadarko, Hollis, Waurika and Walters while the Dawgs finished third behind Anadarko and Hollis.
Alyssa Capper led the Lady Dawgs with a time of 6:51 on the mile-long course while Nevah Kidder finished 22nd, Taylor Johnson finished 30th, Aphril Palestino finished 36th, Lexie Scott finished 37th and Mariah Maldonado finished 40th.
Aiden Kille led the Dawgs with a time of 5:53 to finish fifth on the mile-long course. Also placing for the Dawgs was Justin Ortiz who finished ninth, Kaysen Ybarra who finished 20th, Matt Furfey who finished 21st, Isiah Sanchez who finished 24th, Ben Lifer who finished 26th and Nick Borghini who finished 28th.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.