By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
There’s just something about Oklahoma State’s Country Course that brings out the best in Stillwater High School junior Catherine Petty.
Petty didn’t bring home any hardware from Saturday’s Cowboy Jamboree — finishing 154th overall — and the Lady Pioneers finished 26th as a team, but she takes solace knowing that she set a new personal record with a time of 14:08.91.
“Sometimes its hard to run as hard as you can in practice, but you just have to keep going and know that it’s going to pay off in times like these when you set a new PR,” Petty said. “It’s really great. I had a couple of friends here to come cheer me on, so it was a good feeling to do it in front of them.”
The home crowd may have helped Petty, but Stillwater cross country coach Dan Zeroski said he was slightly disappointed in the way his athletes performed on a course they were so familiar with.
“We’d like to get in the top 10, but we just never run well at this meet,” Zeroski said. “We promote it so much and the kids get so excited that they don’t do well. It’s almost like they’re trying too hard.”
The Lady Pioneers were led by senior Chablee Sanders, who finished 52nd with a time of 12:31.94. Sanders was 92nd last year and even showed some extra burst at the end to pass a couple runners in the final stretch.
“Sometimes it’s good when you have a burst at the end like she did,” Zeroski said. “So many times people will start out fast and then when they get to the end, there’s nothing left in the tank. She was able to get a nice little burst at the end to take a couple more spots.”
Along with Sanders and Petty, senior Abbie Woods was 158th with a time of 14:17.43, while junior Angela Fitch finished 169 with a time of 14:31.76. Junior Meagan Magee rounded out Stillwater’s scoring with a time of 14:49.36 to finish 175th.
“I think we’re all very happy with our times, for the most part,” Petty said. “It’s a tough course, so we’re hoping to use that and build off of it for the rest of the season.”
The Stillwater boys team had aspirations of being a top-10 team, but one little slip ended up costing them dearly as they finished 20th.
After not being able to compete in last year’s jamboree, senior Sam Smith had more heartbreak in this year’s meet. Smith injured his left foot after stumbling on the first hill. He still finished 72nd with a time of 17:58.60, but the pain in his foot made for a difficult run.
“It was much harder than the first time I ran as a sophomore,” Smith said. “The first downhill, I misstepped and I might have a foot injury that we need to check out. It was awful. It hurt a lot, but it was all mental. ... I couldn’t take my mind off the pain, honestly. My mind was on it the whole time because I knew if I had another misstep, I would be out of the race. I just had to focus and try to do what I could for the team.”
“Sam is just an animal,” Zeroski said. “He may have a stress fracture, but we’ll have to see what the X-rays say. To be able to finish the race after that is just a testament to his toughness.”
But where Smith faltered, others like Zach Porterfield and Jake Meyer picked up the slack. Porterfield finished 81st with a time of 18:05.15, while Meyer was 88th and set a new personal record with a time of 18:08.77. Bo Frohawk was 109th with a time of 18:20.30, while Jay Ogle rounded out Stillwater’s scoring with a time of 19:01.31.
“Our team in general did very good for what we were dealing with,” Smith said. “Zach Porterfield came off being sick for three or four days, and Bo and Jake did great. Jake set a PR, which is amazing for this hard course.”
Along with the Stillwater teams, several area athletes competed as well.
Frontier’s Alivia Molina led the way for the area schools, finishing 26th with a time of 13:17.53, while Perry’s Rylee Bellmon beat teammate Dali Atchley for 29th place. Bellmon finished in 13:47.08 and Atchley recorded a time of 13:48.63.
Perry’s Sarah Sweet also finished 42nd with a time of 13:51.35, while Karlie Arnold was 80th, with a time of 14:55.24. Emily Brown rounded out the scoring for Perry, finishing 88th with a time of 15:09.69.
Of the smaller schools on the boys’ side Perry’s Geoff Hogen led the way, finishing 44th with a time of 19:14.81. Ripley’s Michael Coomer was 115th with a time of 20:51.87, while Perry’s Nathan Bugg finished 138th with a time of 22:17.72.