X-country has good showing at states
November 09, 2011 - Varsity Cross Country Head Coach Ray Sutherland could not be any more ecstatic following his runners performances during the division one state finals on Saturday, Nov. 4.
OHS junior Ryan Gillespie (far left) leads the pack. He finished 40th overall at the state finals. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
Competing against the top 27division one schools at Michigan International Speedway, the girls varsity program managed to come home 11th overall.
"I am very pleased," Sutherland said. "To place in the top 15 of the state without making it to states in a number of years…we are extremely pleased."
Junior Brooke Kovacic led the Wildcats with a fourth place finish in the team race. She finished her race with a time of 18:03.8, setting the Oxford High School junior record.
Senior Brittany Johnson was the next Wildcat to finish. In the final run of her Wildcat career, she posted a 19:01.3, which placed her 26th overall. Fellow senior Chelsea Johnson was not far behind, finishing 43rd in a time of 19:17.1.
Rounding out the top five for the girls were freshmen Jenna Feeney, who finished 103rd in 19:57.7 and sophomore Alora McCoy, who crossed the finish line in 20:23.3, which placed her 130th.
Feeney's time was the seventh fastest in school's history, while McCoy ran the school's 13th fastest time.
Freshmen Sabrina Smith finished in 144th (20:41.4) while sophomore Kristen Godwin came home 173rd (21:15.3).
"The last few years for the girls' team, we have said every year this is the best team ever," Sutherland said.
Kovacic (click for larger version)
According to Sutherland, records indicate three years ago only three varsity girl runners broke the 20 minute mark during a race. Now, less than three years later, the entire team average at the state meet was approximately 19:20.
"It is a huge improvement," Sutherland said.
Meanwhile, the two varsity boys runners, senior Alec Smith and junior Ryan Gillespie, also went above and beyond Sutherland's expectation. Gillespie managed to cross the finish line 40th overall in 16.12.6, while Smith battled for 86th, finishing with a time of 16:32.8.
Gillespie's time was third fastest in school history.
"It was an exceptional job by both of those guys," Sutherland said. "It was really windy, so it was a little bit more difficult than normal for the state meet."
"We thought we were going to be okay this year, but we had no idea that we were going to excel like we did," Sutherland said when asked about the boys' season.
Sutherland said he received some surprising news about the Oakland Activities Association Red standings. When combining the boys and girls teams together, Oxford placed first in the overall standings with 45 points, thus winning the overall league championship.
On the year, both the boys and girls finished in third place in their divisions. "We are very proud of that. It shows good consistency with the program," Sutherland added.
Overall, Sutherland called it "a very successful year." "We are very proud. We're losing our (girls) number two and three runners (Brittany and Chelsea Johnson) because of graduation, and we're losing our (boys) number one, two (Alec Smith) runner depending on the meet…but the legacy and what they are passing on should be a great builder for next year."
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.