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X-country headed for state finals



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Oxford Wildcats cross country runner Kristen Godwin. (click for larger version)
November 02, 2011 - It's off to the state finals for the varsity girls cross country team.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, the girls ran one of their best races of the year as they finished second overall at regionals and qualify for the state finals, which will be held at Michigan International Speedway Nov. 4.

Oxford finished second with 79 points, 12 points behind regional winner Rochester Adams.

"(It's been) almost double-digits since the last time the girls team made it," varsity cross country head coach Ray Sutherland said. "We usually have a team average time of over 20 minutes, we had a team average time of 19:36, by far the best team time we have ever had."

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"On this girls team right now, I have been saying this is the best team we've ever had, (it's) at least the fastest team we've ever had," Sutherland said. "Six out of the seven runners are in our top 13 all-time, so excellent job."

Junior Brooke Kovacic (18:27) led Wildcats with a fourth place finish overall. Sutherland noted her finishing time placed her

Senior Chelsea Johnson finished ninth overall with her run of 19:16, which was also good enough for the fifth fastest time in the history of the school.

"It's definitely the PR (personal record) of her life," Sutherland said.

Fellow senior Brittany Johnson finished 11th in 19:29. According to Sutherland, it was her fastest time of the year.

Two runners, freshman Sabrina Smith (23rd; 19:11) and sophomore Kristen Godwin (38th; 20:44) shaved over 30 second off of their personal best time.

"Smith took 45 seconds off of her personal best time...and ran the 11th fastest time in the history of the school as a freshmen," Sutherland said. "Godwin, she took off a good half-minute off her best time.

Sophomore Alora McCoy finished 32nd (20:37) and freshmen Jenna Feeney was the last runner to cross the line for Oxford, finishing 59th in a time of 21:52.

Meanwhile, the boys just missed out on qualifying for states, finishing fifth. Romeo was the regional winner, followed by Clarkston, Lake Orion and Utica in second through fourth, respectively.

Even though the team missed out on qualifying, the Wildcat boys had two runners, junior Ryan Gillespie and senior Alec Smith, make the field.

"Qualifying two boys, it's a great accomplishment," Sutherland said.

Gillespie finished fourth overall in a time of 16:16, while Smith finished 14th overall (16:35.)

According to Sutherland, both Gillespie and Smith's times at regionals were good enough to make the boys cross country record books. Gillespie's time was fourth fastest in school history while Smith ran the 11th fastest time in school history.

Overall, Sutherland was very pleased with how well the boys ran. "They did a real, real nice job and it was a great way to finish the year," he said.

Junior Ross Chapman finished 39th in 17:19, while senior came home 47th (17:23). Freshman Logan Bruni (51st; 17:31) rounded out the Wildcats top five and Kyle Feeney (59th; 17:38) and Aaron Pletta (62nd; 17:44) finished sixth and seventh respectively for Oxford.

Heading into states, Sutherland said even though he didn't pay that close attention to the other teams Oxford will be racing against, he is hoping the Wildcats can come out with a top 10 finish.

"We will see where it goes," Sutherland said. "That might be a stretch, but you have to reach. We have three first year runners on this team and we are still competing the way we are, which is pretty impressive."

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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