By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Typically when Stillwater, Enid and Ponca City all get together, there’s bound to be blood and tears. That’s just the way rivalries work.
But it’s a different story when it comes to cross country.
As the Stillwater High School cross country team hosts its two historic rivals for a meet Tuesday at the Oklahoma State cross country course, the three schools will actually be working together for one goal — preparing each other for regionals on Oct. 26.
“Our kids actually enjoy each other,” Stillwater cross country coach Dan Zeroski said. “... It’s a rivalry, but it’s a good rivalry because they all get along very well. Cross country is probably the only sport where everybody is yelling for everybody. It’s a rivalry but it’s not a hate rivalry.”
The sheer hatred for each other may not be as intense as other sports, but Zeroski made no bones about the team’s goal heading into Tuesday’s meet. He doesn’t want them to just win. He wants them to win handily.
“It’s kind of bragging rights to see who is the best team out of the three local Class 6A schools,” Zeroski said. “We’d like to have our top seven boys in the top 10 or top 12 at least. Enid probably has the better girls team, but it’d be nice if we could beat Enid and Ponca.”
Expected to lead the way for the Pioneers will be Zach Porterfield, who finished first at Oklahoma Baptist University Thursday.
“He had a really good workout (Saturday) on the OSU cross country course,” Zeroski said. “All the kids had probably the best workout we’ve had all year. It was probably one of the best workouts all year and they should run very well in the meet coming up Tuesday.”
Even with a chance of rain Sunday and Monday, possibly dampening the course and making things slightly more difficult for all teams, Zeroski said cooler temperatures could help drop those times even more.
“The weather is going to be nice,” Zeroski said. “I think the high is going to be 65. We ran very well in the Shawnee meet because it was a night race and it was probably in the low 60s, so that makes a difference. It’s supposed to rain Sunday and Monday, so its going to be a little bit foggy, but with OSU’s wood chips course, it can rain for two straight days and you can still run that course.”
And while Tuesday’s meet may not have the same intensity of say a football or basketball game, Zeroski said there is definitely some buzz surrounding Tuesday’s meet.
“It gives us one last chance before regionals,” Zeroski said. “Everybody runs in one race, from varsity to junior varisty, and it’s kind of fun to see all of our top runners running against each other in one meet. We’re definitely excited about that.”