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Lady Jackets 9th at 4A state meet

November 02, 2022 - 00:00
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  • Lady Jackets 9th at 4A state meet
  • Lady Jackets 9th at 4A state meet
    KHS JUNIOR Chesni Newkirk (left photo) and freshman Harper Evans (right photo, center) were the top two finishers for the Lady Jackets at the Class 4A state meet last Saturday. [Photos by Chris Simon/]

It was a state meet with some unexpected results.

You can count Kingfisher’s in that mix.

KHS took ninth Saturday at the Class 4A girls state cross country competition at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

Fifth-rankedByngsurged to win the state championship with 108 points, nudging third-ranked Cache’s 117.

Anadarko, a team KHS had beaten twice this season, sailed to the medal stand with 126 points and a third-place finish.

KHS, ranked as high as No. 4 this year, entered state ranked seventh.

Was KHS cross country head coach Kerri Lafferty disappointed by her team’s finish at state?

“Yes and no,” she said. “It was the perfect day to run our best times of the year. We just didn’t get it done.”

Junior Chesni Newkirk was the Lady Jackets’ top runner.

She finished 41st in a field of 164 runners.

Her time of 13:13.90 placed her 34th among those who scored points for their teams and was 30 seconds faster than she ran at state a year before.

Freshman Harper Evans was 49th (38th) in 13:32.00 and fellow freshman Scout Snodgrass 58th (46th) in 13:30.51.

Zaylynn Lopez and Terry Ann McCully, a junior and sophomore, respectively, were 74th (60th) and 75th (61st) to round out the Lady Jackets’ scoring.

Juniors Peyton Walker was 89th (73rd) and Emmy Lunsford 100th (83rd), though their finishes didn’t count toward the KHS point total.

Lafferty made note that all seven runners are underclassmen.

“I have to remember that we are a very young team,” she said.

Only Newkirk, Lopez and Lunsford had run at state before.

“The competition is unreal and can be overwhelming for younger, inexperienced runners.” State is one of the biggest fields of the year. It features 21 full teams plus at least 20 additional qualifiers from non-qualifying teams.

“Some of the girls get stuck in the pack, which made it hard for them to make moves during the race,” Lafferty said.

She added that Evans handled the adversity well, especially for a freshman.

“She handled the pressure and ran a fantastic race,” Lafferty said. “In fact, she might have been our most consistent runner this year. I expect her to take on a huge leadership role next year.”

This season’s finish is something Lafferty hopes this crop of runners can build on for 2023.

“I know the girls were disappointed, but at the same time, I think it was also a great opportunity for them,” she said.

Cross country isn’t just a test of physical endurance, but mental as well.

“These girls need to know what it feels like to push paces during races and be competitive,” she said.

“More than anything, we have to get mentally tougher in order to compete with the top teams in the state. I think that was missing from our team this year.”

Being more ready to run in late October might mean changes in June, July, August and September.

“Our goal is to try to peak at the end of the season, but we never really reached times I was hoping for,” Lafferty said.

“That is completely on me. I need to go back and re-evaluate our training program from this past season to see how I can get these kids running faster earlier.” The Lady Jackets will return all seven runners who competed at state this year, plus a major contributor from 2021 who was unable to run much of this season.

On top of that will be some talented runners from this year’s eighth grade ranks.

Combined, that could put KHS right back in the mix in 2023, Lafferty said.

“Hopefully they’ll come back next year even more dedicated and committed to the process and training that’s required to become state champions.”