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Running under tough conditions

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With minds on coach, KHS girls 8th, boys 15th at cold, muddy state XC

  • Running under tough conditions
    KINGFISHER CROSS COUNTRY runner Jon Henry (2034 above) turns the corner on a muddy track during the 4A state meet in Shawnee. On the right, Zoey Evans (2027) and Katon Lunsford (2028) are near the start of their race. Both runners eventually medaled at th
  • Running under tough conditions

Mother Nature saved her worst for last when it came to the 2019 cross country season.

In the most heinous conditions of the season, the Kingfisher High School girls placed eighth and the boys 15th last Saturday at the Class 4A state meet at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee.

“Those were probably the worst conditions I have ever had to run in,” said KHS junior Zoey Evans, who finished 10th in the girls race to earn All-State honors for a second straight season.

Evans ran the 3,200 meter course in 12:51.58, which somehow was under the 13:00 mark, but well above her personal record (PR).

With temperatures hovering in the low 40s, the wind chills much lower and the course soaked by more than a full day of rain leading up to the early-morning race, no runners were able to approach their PR.

“It was so cold and we had to constantly trad through water,” said Evans, who also noted it could have been even worse.

“We were just lucky that all the rain had stopped by that point,” she added.

The Lady Jackets were coming off their best season ever as they won the 2018 state championship.

“We really did well, but it was definitely a rebuilding year,” said head coach Kerri Lafferty. “But I couldn’t have been prouder of the teams. They really ran the best they could in horrid conditions.”

Lafferty was unable to attend the meet. She was in Austin, Texas, as her mother was put in hospice care two days before the state meet.

“I really struggled with missing the state meet and being there with them,” Lafferty said. “But I felt I needed to be with my family.”

Lafferty’s mother passed away Monday afternoon.

“It was hard for us for her to not be there, but we were glad she was able to be with her mom,” Evans said.

Former KHS cross country coach Shiloh Kannady, who has helped with the program since stepping down, took the teams to the state meet.

Kannady watched as sophomore Katon Lunsford earned her second medal in as many years. Lunsford was14thoverallin13:05.85.

“Katon and Zoey have been running cross country for two years and now both of them have earned two medals at state,” Lafferty said. “I’m so proud of and happy for them.”

Ashtin Witt took 48th and Allyson Scammahorn 103rd while Dani Ramirez rounded out Kingfi sher’s scorers with her 116th place fi nish.

All five runners had higher placings that counted toward the team score of 239 based on other runners not affi liated with full teams placing high in the race.

Lincoln Christian won the state title with 67 points. Madill was the runner-up with 99.

Weatherford freshman Jordan Hoffman won the individual title in 12:11.39. Her teammate and two-time defending champ, Kennadi Price, fell during the race and was relegated to 15th place.

Lincoln Christian made it a 4A sweep by claiming the boys’ title, too.

With 75 points, the Bulldogs easily topped runner-up Byng’s 78.

KHS had 428 points.

The Jackets were led by Jon Henry, who was 28th overall in 17:49.90 on the 5K course.

“You never know how someone is going to run at state, but he ran really well and beat some runners he hadn’t beaten this year,” Lafferty said.

Jayden Newkirk was 48th in 18:19.09.

Whether in person or from a distance, Lafferty couldn’t stop praising her 2019 teams.

“They were the hardest-working group of kids who did everything this year 100 percent without complaint,” Lafferty said. “It’s been a joy to coach them this year.”

She just wished it ended under different circumstances.

“It was a tough week for all of us,” Lafferty said. “They ran their hearts out for me.”