What a difference one runner can make.
In a year that was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Altus High School Lady Bulldogs’ cross country team, the return of Cayden Beckner has vaulted the team to the top of its last two meets. Beckner won in Elgin two weeks ago and in Lawton Friday at the Cameron University Invitational.
Beckner and Bethany Garrison, who finished third Friday, led the team to the top spot in each meet. The girls’ team was so dominant, all five of its top runners finished in the top 11 to finish with 32 points compared to runner-up Elgin with 39 points. Points are awarded by the place finishes of the first five runners of the seven runners per team, and the low score wins. When the scores are tied, the place finishes of the sixth runners, and possibly seventh runners, are added. Runners without full teams are not counted in the scoring.
Altus girls finishing top 11 and their times in the 5-kilometer race were: 1st, Beckner, 22:00; 3rd, Garrison, 22:50; 8th, Melanie Outten, 24:39; 9th, Alexis Salazar, 25:02, and 11th, Allison Cope, 25:04. Altus’ sixth runner placed 16th with a time of 25:25 was Mariah Maldonado and the seventh runner was Celeste Jencks, 39th, in 30:31.
Cope sprinted at the end to pass an Elgin runner at the finish line which helped the close score with Elgin.
Beckner had decided to sit out cross country this year and joined the swim team. After coaches pointed out the results of the first meet and told her she could have won, she rejoined the team. After qualifying for state as a freshman, Beckner had to sit out her freshman year of track after being a passenger in a car accident. By the end of her sophomore year last year, she qualified for the state track meet in the 3,200-meter run where she finished 10th in 13:13.
There were six teams and 49 girls who finished the race on Friday.
In the boys’ race, senior Calvin Wagoner was with the lead group most of the way but stepped in a hole in the last mile and twisted an ankle. The winning time of 16:39 was close to the 16:41 he ran the previous week. Wagoner finished as Altus’ number two runner in seventh place in 17:38.
Altus sophomore Justin Ortiz finished fifth overall with a time of 16:59. He led the team to a second-place showing out of 15 teams. Altus scored 61 points to the winning team, Anadarko’s 51 points.
Altus’ other top runners, their place finishes and times were: 14th, Taeve Elliot, 18:24; 17th, Macel Canterbury, 18:31; 18th, Michael James, 18:39; 48th, Aidan Kille, 1943; and 51st, Nicholas Borghini, 19:50. There were 173 runners who finished the race.
Hollis and Navajo also competed in the meet. Hollis’ Rowdy Randall was the top male finisher in 11th pace with a time of 18:12. Navajo’s top finisher was Airen Josefy, 98th in 21:19. Smaller school girls’ teams ran 3,200-meters, and the top finishers from Hollis were Mikal Macias, 19th, 15:10; and Katie Pendergraft, 20th, 15:11.
The teams travel to Norman this weekend for what is expected to be a competitive meet since the state meet will be held on the course. The 5A and 6A races will be between 9 a.m. and noon. Smaller classifications begin at 1 p.m.