By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater High School senior Ben Miles is about to trade his cross country cleats for band shoes. But before the sun sets on his cross country career, Miles showed one more flash of brilliance in Tuesday’s triangular meet against Ponca City and Enid at Oklahoma State’s cross country course.
Miles finished fifth with a time of 19:04, ending what could be the last race of Miles’ career on a high note.
“I won’t be able to run next week because I have a prior engagement, so today was probably my last race of the year,” Miles said. “I just wanted to go out and give everything I had left. It was a good finish. I felt like I had a good chance to win coming into the last kilometer, but (the guys ahead of me) had a really strong finish. It was still pretty good for me — I was happy with the run.
“It was kind of sad to know that this was probably my last run. I’ve been a part of this team for four years, so I’m sad it’s over. But it’s been a good four years and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it.”
Miles’ fifth-place finish helped a depleted Pioneer squad come in second with 42 points, 19 points behind Ponca City. Along with Miles, junior Chad Kenkel finished seventh with a time of 19:49, while freshman Jay Ogle was ninth with a time of 19:55. Rylan Carney was right behind Ogle with a time of 19:55 and senior Max DeGroot rounded out Stillwater’s scoring with an 11th-place finish in 19:58.
“Our top three runners didn’t run today and the next seven just did a tempo race,” Stillwater coach Dan Zeroski said. “They had a set pace where they should have finished around 19 or 20 minutes, but the rest of them ran hard. We have two races this week and this was just supposed to be a fun race for our kids — especially since this is the last race for most of them.”
The Stillwater boys may have been trying to pace themselves for this weekend’s Chili Pepper Invitational at Fayetteville, Ark., but the only pace the Lady Pioneers were trying to keep was the one set by Enid.
Stillwater finished second with 49 points, 20 points behind the Lady Pacers.
In what could be her final home meet, Stillwater senior Chablee Sanders came in third with a time of 12:54, 23 seconds off the pace she set a few weeks ago at the Cowboy Jamboree.
“A lot of girls were like, ‘We’re just going to go easy today and get ready for Saturday,’ but it was a hard day for me,” Sanders said. “Whenever I run a race my mind is on that race, so it’s hard to pace myself. I didn’t hold back because I have a few days to recover until Saturday. I feel like it’s better that I ran it hard because it keeps my legs still in fresh mode.”
Sanders said having so much familiarity with the course made Tuesday’s race a little easier.
“The more you run the course, the better you know it,” Sanders said. “The better you know the course, the better your race is going to be. You’re not going to be surprised when you have to go up that big hill a second time because you know you have to pace yourself for it.”
In addition to Sanders, Anna Beyer finished eighth with a time of 14:14. Junior Catherine Petty was right behind her, finishing ninth with a time of 14:16, while fellow junior Angela Fitch was 13th after finishing in 14:41. Junior Meagan Magee rounded out Stillwater’s scoring by finishing 16th with a time of 15:29.
“The girls went and ran hard,” Zeroski said. “We didn’t hold the girls back because the girls could be done after regionals if they don’t qualify for state.”