While most students were at home, doing their online assignments or enjoying a day off from being in the classroom on the first Virtual Day of the year (Sep. 15), about 150 LPS students competed for the title of Cross Country City Champions.
The annual event, held around Cameron University’s McCord Field, kicked off at 10 a.m., just after the Lawton Public School Foundation breakfast, with the high school girl’s 5K race, which was followed by the high school boys, the middle school girls, and then the middle school boys. Student-athletes from all three LPS high schools and middle schools as well as Lawton Academy of Arts competed in the meet.
In the first race of the morning, it was Eisenhower High’s (EHS) Championship to lose. Sophomore Danielle Tomah paced the Lady Eagles to a repeat win, finishing in first place with a time of 22:02.59, over 1-minute before the second place finisher, her teammate Callee Roberson (23:48.12). EHS’s group had five runners finish in the top-10 with Victoria Wright, Rachel Beydler, and Vanessa Duron joining Tomah and Roberson. Eisenhower finished the race with 22 points as a team.
“It feels great, it feels really good,” said Tomah on her City Championship win. “Cross country is a big mental game and really pushed me to better myself. I just tell myself to stay loose and stay strong.”
Additionally, the MacArthur Lady Highlanders finished in second with 41 points and Lawton High came in third with 68 points. MHS’s top finisher was Addison Luper, who ran a time of 24:18.34, with Kamyia Jackson placing seventh and Emma Kirby eighth. The Wolverine’s Grace Dermody placed third with a time of 24:11.34 and Karsyn Whalen was just outside of the top-10 in 12th place.
MacArthur’s boys team has been dominant in this race over the past few years and it was no different this year. With just 24 points, six Highlanders finished inside of the top-10 led by senior Carson Burd, who repeated as the City Champ with a time of 17:48.59; Burd is vying for a State Championship this year after finishing 14th at State last year. Justin Newlin finished third, Zeke Walter placed fifth, and Luke Blackmon, Jordan Johnson, and Trevin Shelton finished seventh, eighth, and ninth.
“Our plan today was to pace the guys, to go 1-2-3-4-5,” said Burd about his team's strategy going into the race. “It did not really go the way we wanted to, but they did great… and everybody performed well. This sport is tough, and it is definitely not for the weak. So training everyday, seven days a week, consistency, and I have really learned a lot throughout my years of running. I really enjoy it!”
Lawton High’s boys, which includes members of the Wolverine basketball team, came in second place with 46 points. Corey Barnes ran a runner-up time of 18:05.31, and he was joined by Garrett Roberts, Auvy Young, and Tavarias Deans inside the top-10. Eisenhower had a team score of 81 points led by Ben Bear’s 11th place finish with a time of 19:26.94.
In the middle school girls’ race, Lawton Academy’s Claire Trachte claimed first but the top LPS finisher was MacArthur Middle’s Gianna Coucilia with a time of 6:56.03 in the 1-mile race. The Lady Scotts also had Grier Garza (10th), Maddie Pooschke (13th), and Alisia Martinez (15th) finish inside the top-15. Eisenhower Middle had four runners in the top-10. Naomie Caldwell led the Vikings’ group, running a fifth place time of 7:07.56, while Lyla Myers, Kathryn Tetreault, and Yazmin Pena finished seventh, eighth, and ninth. Central, who is growing their cross country program, had Hannah Dermondy competing and she finished in 18th with a time of 8:28.38.
The middle school boys were the last to run and while MMS and EMS were the only teams that had enough runners to earn a team score, it was a Central student that claimed the individual title. The Cougars’ Eli James paced the whole field by surging late and running a time of 13:07.84; his teammate Brody Thomas finished 15th. Jalani Adams led the Vikings to a team win, claiming the runner-up spot with a time of 13:22.56. Aiden Blackburn finished fourth and Noah Hinton placed sixth. MMS was led by Ethan Loehr, who claimed third with a finish of 13:53.68. He was joined by Eli Tahhahwah-Martinez (7th) and Noah McKeever (8th) in the top-10.
The LPS cross country runners were not the only students participating during the morning. Members of the Eisenhower High School drumline treated fans and racers to beats throughout the meet and the MacArthur High School broadcast team put together a great highlight video complete with interviews of the two high school winners that can be found on the MHS Highlander Media YouTube page.
Much like previous years, the City Championship serves as one of the first races of the season for the LPS teams as they move on to prepare for the Regional and State races, which will take place in October.