By Chuck Reherman
The cross country season isn’t quite over for Yukon sophomore runner Avery Stanley.
Stanley, after her finish in the class 6A State Cross Country Championships and another top five finish in the Meet of Champions, will represent Oklahoma in the Oklahoma-Arkansas dual Saturday in Rogers, AR. The girls division will run at 11:30 a.m.
The meet will feature the top runners from both states competing in the 5K event. The official scoring team for the Oklahoma/Arkansas dual will consist of the top 20 finishers from the Meet of Champions and five at large runners. The five at large berths will be given to runners who A) do not run at the Meet of Champions and are nominated by their coach B) finish 21st-25th at the Meet of Champions. If a runner from the official scoring team is not present at the Oklahoma/Arkansas Dual, a runner will be moved up to fill the spot based on performance at the Meet of Champions.
Stanley is looking to help the Oklahoma team bring back the state the Dual title, competing against the best runners in Arkansas.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to race in the Oklahoma-Arkansas dual, since I’ve been able to talk to and become friends with runners on other teams we will now have a chance to be on one team representing Oklahoma,” Stanley said. “The top 20 finishers from the meet of champions will go and be the scoring team, but there will also be five at large runners participating to, so there should be around 50 runners in total. I think to get a good finish I will have to start out fast and get into a good position and have a faster than normal pace, also in the last part of the race push myself to pass people in front of me.”
Stanley has had two strong outings in her last meets, finishing 10th in the Class 6A State Cross Country Championships and then running to a fifth place finish in the Meet of Champions, held Saturday at Midwest City Carl Albert High School.
Stanley ran a time of 20 minutes and 2.67 seconds over the 5K distance. She went out to a strong start and was in ninth place midway through the race when she started to make her move. She passed Kaitlyn Byrd of Moore in the final 100 meters to finish fifth. Byrd finished in a time of 20:03.05.
“I didn’t know what to expect today with this course since it was more hilly than what I’m used to but I thought overall I ran pretty well with that and the cooler weather conditions.
“Before the race started I knew that I needed to get our fast or I would get stuck in a pack of people,” she said. “So that’s what I did. I started out fast and got in the top five to 10 people and stayed with that group the majority of the race. With around a mile left I knew that if I stayed with the people I was by that I could push myself at the end, so I stayed with them and with about 150 meters to go I was in ninth, so just started pushing and at the finish I had passed four people and was in fifth place.”
Four of the top five runners were underclassmen. Kiefer’s Zoie Kiddy won the Meet of Champions title in a time of 19:36.13. Zoee Weaver of Beaver was second in 19:43.59, Riley Coleman of Watonga third in 19:52.02 and Annabel White of Westmoore fourth in 19:59.77.
With it being her first time to compete in the event and against several of the runners competing, Stanley did have some “butterflies” right before the start of the race.
“I was more on nervous side because I knew that there was so many good runners that were there that I hadn’t run against all season so I didn’t know what to expect but it also made me excited to see what I could do against some of the top people in the state,” she said. “For the most part the nerves went away and i just ran to the best of my ability.”
Stanley did have help over the course to help those nerves subside. YHS head coach Rod Zimmerman was the race as well as several of her YHS teammates.
“I thought Avery ran well, she got out good and ran up around ninth most of the race and had a kick at the end to get into fifth,” Zimmerman said. “I know she wanted to improve her time and didn’t but still ran really well. You train to perform your best at the regional and state meets and sometimes it’s hard to run post season as well. But, 20:02 is pretty good though and nothing to be unhappy about. She got to experience a race with other girls at the top of their classes and that’s pretty cool.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do this weekend in the Oklahoma-Arkansas Dual,” he said. “That will be an extremely tough meet, Arkansas always has some great runners. But, it will be a great experience for her, especially since she is a sophomore and it will help her in the future as she learns how to run against those types of runners.”