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Girls make history by winning Oxford Inivite

OHS senior Alec Smith led the boys with a time of 17:07.2. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
October 19, 2011 - History was made during the 45th annual Oxford Cross Country Invitational.

Despite strong wind gusts and the threat of rain throughout the meet, the girls varsity cross country team won the Oxford Invitational for the first time in school history.

This time, they made sure nothing was going to cost them a win as the Wildcats outpaced the field, placing four runners inside the top 20 en route to a 40 point victory.

Oxford won with 78 points. Finishing second was Waterford Mott with 118 points while Troy finished third with 124 points.

"I was extremely pleased and we ran exceptionally well," varsity cross country coach Ray Sutherland said. "The kids did a really good job."

Sophomore Brooke Kovacic once again paced the Wildcats, finishing second overall in a time of 18:31.5.

After Kovacic, it was senior Chelsea Johnson outrunning fellow senior Brittany Johnson. Chelsea finished 12th in 19:58.7, while Brittany finished 14th in 20:09.1.

Sutherland praised the efforts of freshman Jenna Feeney, whose time of 20:24.6 tied her for 11th fastest in school history.

Also having good runs for Oxford were freshman Sabrina Smith (30th; 20:54.9), sophomore Alora McCoy (42nd; 21:19.4) and sophomore Kristen Godwin (45th; 21:21.4).

According to Sutherland, Smith came within 15 seconds of making the top 15 times all-time list.

Sutherland said the wind gusts, which sometimes exceeded 20 miles per hour, were a huge factor in the girls race.

"Wind is always a factor. You would think it would help just as much at your back as it would (hurt) when it is against your face...the fatigue factor of running against the wind and how it throws you off your stride, it was a very, very big factor," Sutherland said.

"There were high have performances like we did, Brooke (Kovacic) placing second and five girls in the top thirty, that was just an extraordinary effort," he added.

Meanwhile, the boys managed to come home in fourth place in a highly competitive field. Oxford finished with 148 points.

Lakeland dominated the meet, as their top five runners all finished inside the top 15, and finished with 40 points. They were followed by Lake Orion with 84 points and Walled Lake Northern with 103 points.

"I was pretty pleased with the boys," Sutherland said. "We did a real good job. I thought we ran much better than the week before."

Leading the way for the boys was senior Alec Smith, who finished 13th with a time 17:07.2.

Junior Ryan Gillespie (17:16.2) finished five spots behind Smith in 18th, while junior Ross Chapman finished 29th (17:31.0).

Rounding out Oxford's top seven were sophomore Noah Jenkins (38th; 17:47.1), junior Aaron Pletta (18:04) and senior Kyle Feeney (18:09.2), who finished 50th and 51st respectively, and freshman Logan Bruni, who finished 60th (18:35.8).

"Four medal winners in that tough competition, that was just a very good job," he added. "We had two starters injured for this race, so you can tell that we did a real, real good job."

Up next for the Wildcats is the final Oakland Activities Association Jamboree of the season, which takes place at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills on Thursday, Oct. 20 beginning at 3:20 p.m.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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