By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It wasn’t exactly the meet the Stillwater High School cross country team was looking for, but despite slower times and nagging injuries the boys’ cross country team clinched a spot in the state meet with a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s regional at Oral Roberts University.
“Any time we get into state, we still appreciate it,” Stillwater coach Dan Zeroski said. “We know how hard it is to get in, so any time that we make it we enjoy it. It just hasn’t been easy. ... All the times for all races were a little slow. Our times were about a minute off just because of the course.”
Stillwater finished with 162 points behind Tulsa Union and well in front of Bartlesville, which grabbed the last state qualifying spot with 221 points.
The Pioneers were led by senior Noah Gade, who earned all-regional honors by finishing fourth with a time of 17:02.
“He got fourth, but he just went easy today,” Zeroski said. “He’s saving it all up for next week and I think he’ll be one of the favorites next week. It’s a state meet and he’s been training for it the entire year. It’s his last cross country meet of his high school career, so you know he wants to go out and perform well.”
Along with Gade, junior Zach Porterfield finished 31st with a time of 18:55 while sophomore Bo Frohock was 35th with a time of 19:05. Senior Sam Smith shook off a knee injury to finish 45th with a time of 19:28, and junior Connor Akin rounded out Stillwater’s scoring with a time of 19:29 to finish 47th.
“Zach and Bo have been training hard and running well,” Zeroski said. “But really we’re just happy that Sam even finished the race. He’s been out for three weeks (with an injured foot) and he just got his boot off two days ago. He had knee problems, so we had ice on his knee afterward.”
The Stillwater boys may be going to state, but the same can’t be said about the Lady Pioneers. With several girls out due to injury and illness, the Lady Pioneers finished 13th as a team with 348 points.
The Lady Pioneers were led by senior Chablee Sanders, who missed qualifying for state as an individual by two seconds. Sanders finished 34th with a time of 13:48.
“She got inched out at the finish line,” Zeroski said. “Chablee’s been one of our top runners and that’s just the way it happens sometimes. If you don’t run well at regionals — I don’t care if you’re the top runner in the state — you don’t go. She didn’t have a great race and she didn’t qualify. That’s just the way cross country goes sometimes.”
Along with Sanders, junior Angela Fitch finished 71st with a time of 15:53, while Rachael Brown was 81th after finishing in 17:11. Sophomore Rachel Stine was 84th, recording a time of 18:44, and fellow sophomore Stephanie Ward rounded out Stillwater’s scoring with a time of 18:52 for 85th place.
The Pioneers will continue their season with the state meet Saturday at 2:45 p.m. in Edmond.