OKLAHOMA CITY – Coming through the halfway point of the Class 5A All-Star State Cross Country Meet, the Altus Junior High girls were mired in 7th through 10th place. Tahlequah was holding down the top five spots. However, over the last mile of the race, the Altus girls surprised everyone and when they appeared over the hill with about 200 meters to go. Altus was in 1st, 2nd and 3rd accelerating towards the finish. That comeback gave the Altus Junior High girls the All-Star State Championship.
“When they came around the halfway point,” said coach Robert Garrison. “They were in a spot we weren’t used to seeing them in. They were not leading the race and it worried us. They tried to convince me after the race was over that they knew what they were doing.”
Altus took the team title with 29 points. Tahlequah finished second with 35 points. This was the closest battle of all the classes over the two-day event. Guymon, Collinsville, Carl Albert and Piedmont rounded out the top six teams. Those teams were followed by OKC Clancy (Bishop McGuinness), Durant, Tulsa Bishop Kellly, McAlester, Tulsa Edison and Western Heights.
Plainview girls took the Class 4A title and Westmoore took the 6A girls title. The top three individual finishers at the meet were all Lady Dawgs.
Bethany Garrison won the individual State Championship with a time of 12:56 in the 3200m. Cayden Beckner was right behind as the State Runner-Up with a time of 12:58. Rylee Borrego took third with a 13:02. Sarah Scott, running on a bum ankle, finished 8th with a time of 13:17 and Grayce Gilliam finished 19th with a time of 14:04.
“These girls have ran this way all year but it looked scary for a little while,” said Garrison. “Throughout the race, they communicated with each other and made moves in unison, as a team.”
The State Junior High All-Star Cross Country event is in it’s 22nd year. It is the premier Junior High Cross Country event in the state. It matches the best of the West side of Oklahoma against the best of the East side. It is the season ending meet of the year and is considered the Junior High State Meet.
“I knew Tahlequah, Guymon and Clancy would be tough based on what I’ve seen on some of the results from some earlier meets,” said Garrison. “We didn’t know what the other teams had. This was the first year we had enough girls to make a team so we could go. We’ve always taken two or three girls and one or two boys. We’ve never had a girl finish better than second place. These girls have worked very hard for two years. They really kicked it into gear in July.”
Garrison added, “The times for Bethany, Cayden and Rylee are exceptional for junior high girls. I’m very proud of these young ladies and hopefully this success will inspire more girls to come for cross-country and track. Many coaches and other people there just to see the meet commented on how impressed they were with this group of girls. Some just said ‘Wow!’”.
In the boys division, Calvin Wagoner placed 31st, just barely missing out on being named a third team All-Star member.
“Calvin did a pretty good job considering he ran without the benefit of a team,” said Garrison.“It’s pretty tough to take on the field without having a team to run with.”
The teams would like to that all their parents and supporters who have been by their side all year. They would also like to thank First National Bank for their support at the State Meet.
The term “Fast Five” has been tossed around as a suitable nickname for this bunch of girls. So, let’s make it official here in print. With a State Championship in their trophy case already, these junior high girls are excited to compete at higher levels in the coming years. Ladies if you want to be called “The Fast Five”, slowing down is not an option.
We are proud of all the cross country runners this Fall. It’s a sport without ticket sales revenue or grandstands. So, sometimes cross country gets overlooked by general sports fans. However, I encourage the Altus community to take extra notice of what this program is accomplishing in football’s shadow.
The AHS runners will compete at Regionals next Saturday with a good chance to win it as a team and individual. The top seven teams will then move on to the State meet.
GO FASTER AND FASTER BULLDOGS !!
Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076