YHS runners head east for regionals

Austin Miller passes a Westmoore runner in the COAC meet. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

By Chuck Reherman
Sports Editor
Yukon’s berth to the class 6A cross country state meet will run through the east this season.
The Millers and Millerettes will compete in the East Regional Saturday at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs.
YHS will be joined by west teams Edmond Memorial and Mustang on the east along with east powers Jenks, Owasso, Broken Arrow.
For the No. 6 ranked Millerettes, the top three ranked teams in the state will be in their regional, while the No. 13 Millers have to top two ranked teams in their division.
The 6A girls will run at 10 a.m. and the boys will run at 10:45 p.m.
Millerette head coach Rod Zimmerman feels his team will have a strong chance to qualify for the state meet as a team and with a good showing Saturday can compete for a regional title.

Avery Stanley will lead the Millerettes into the east regional meet. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

“I think the girls will qualify to state as a team out of this regional,” Zimmerman said. “On the girls side there are a lot of good runners in the east regional and good teams. I feel the top teams in the state are Jenks, Owasso and Broken Arrow and our girls get to go head to head with them. They can do well over there.
“I am told the other west schools desperately wanted us to go east, they never really talked to me about it but would tell coach (Matt) Parent that,” he said. “This made me want to stay on this side and run against them but the state sent us east so we will go over there and compete and then come back to the city for the state meet.
“That regional is really tough, probably had a better chance of winning here on the west side. It’s not impossible over there but harder.”
The Millerettes will be coming off their best ever finish in the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference meet, taking second overall and have run strong in their last three outings.
“I think if they run like they have the last three meets, Santa Fe, Owasso, COAC they give themselves a chance to be there,” Zimmerman said. “If Avery (Stanley) runs a low 19-18 Harper (Barlow) runs a 19 again and then three of the girls run in the 20’s and the other two in the high 20’s low 21’s they are really competitive and can be in the top three.”
Stanley won her first COAC title last week in a time of 18:51.27, breaking the Yukon school record.
“I’m excited about running in the east regionals, because I feel those runners will push me more,” Stanley said. “I can really run faster when I’m pushed like that and I can get another new PR (personal record).”
Stanley will face tougher competition in the east regional with runners from Bixby, Jenks and Owasso.

Kailan Parks competes in the COAC meet. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

“It’s tough, Bixby as a girl who ran an 18 flat and Broken Arrow has one that went 18:17 on the Mohawk Park course in their conference meet last week,” Zimmerman said. “Avery and the rest of them team run better as the competition gets tougher though so you never know what is going to happen.
“I am not sure about how the Sand Springs course is,” he said. “I have never seen it in person but here it may be mostly flat with a couple of dips in the course they will go down into and then back out of. I saw a video from last year’s regional and it looked like one of them was similar to the mile mark at Santa Fe.”
For the Millers, either regional was going to be tough, but head coach Matt Parent feels his team has a better chance at qualifying for state from the east.
“We got the news on Friday that we would be going to Sand Springs,” Parent said. “This year, there is supposed to be four teams from the west go east, but the OSSAA decided to just send three. For the boys, that is the first, fourth, and 13th ranked teams. Add that to Broken Arrow, Union, Owasso, Bartlesville, and Jenks, and what you get is an extremely tough regional. There are eight ranked teams running for seven places into the state meet.

Cade Pope turns a corner as he heads to the final stretch during the COAC meet. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

“On paper, we and Jenks may be running for that berth,” he said. “We will need to be firing on all cylinders to get there. Our guys have been getting better every week.  We need to continue that, and just hope and pray daily that we can stay away from sickness and contact tracing.”
The Millers will have to run well. YHS finished seventh in the COAC meet last week and will have to drop times to have a chance to qualify.
“In a sport where five people score, one scoring runner equals 20-percent of your team,” Parent said. “Then, when you combine that with the fact that the regional meet is the only meet where a team can qualify to the state meet, it sets up a situation where everything your team has done throughout the year is meaningless if the wrong things happens on that single day. It’s enough the to a coach’s stomach in knots and add quite a bit more grey hair.
“In any case, I’m proud of what our guys have done to date and just how hard they’ve worked to get to this point. They are a success in my books,” Parent said.