By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah’s boys cross country team registered a third-place finish at the Class 5A state meet in 2012. At the time, coach Jason Proctor couldn’t have been happier.
“Looking back to last season where we had arguably the greatest state meet performance in the 30-plus years of the program,” Proctor said.
That was until this year.
In Edmond over the weekend, Tahlequah finished second to Deer Creek, which cruised to its third straight championship. Still, though, Proctor could not have been more thrilled.
“The weekend was a special one,” he said. “...This year may top (last season).
“Back-to-back second-place finishes for the girls, the fourth runner-up finish in program history for the boys, two All-Staters for the girls, one for the boys and another boy finish in the medals. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Leading the way for the Tahlequah boys was Zechariah VanFleet, who picked up an individual bronze medal with a time of 16:22.00 in the 5K race. Bryce Balenseifen of Deer Creek (15:47) was the individual champion and Duncan’s Walker Clampitt (16:10) was second.
Rounding out the rest of Tahlequah’s top five was Mo Bassime (17:03) in 15th, Aaron Eversole (17:30) in 25th, Braxton Hood (17:36) in 29th and Seth Martin (17:44) in 32nd.
“This was the boys third straight finish on the medal stand, which was our No. 1 goal on the season,” Proctor said. “We narrowed the gap on Deer Creek and ran the best we could on that day.”
As for the Tahlequah girls, the Lady Tigers also picked up a runner-up trophy as a team. Tahlequah recorded 67 points, which was 18 points behind Deer Creek.
Pacing the Lady Tigers was Amy Hembree, who finished second in the 3,200-meter race at 12:30. Gracie Medellin wasn’t far behind her teammate, crossing the finish line two seconds after Hembree in fourth place.
Grove’s Michaela Werner was first overall at 11:48, and Stilwell’s Sydney Lawrence received the silver at 12:28.
Tahlequah’s Lindsey Chaffin (13:13) was 19th, Madison Reed (13:22) came in 29th and Alejandra Medellin (13:23) cruised in at 31st.
While summing up he season for the boys, Proctor could have easily been referencing both Tahlequah teams.
“This is the best team we’ve had in many years, potentially one of the best we’ve ever had,” Proctor said. “The results show it.”