Keys' cross country teams have been improving throughout the season. The boys and girls are improving their running times from the beginning of the season while competing against larger schools.
The Lady Cougars, after finishing 17th in the state last season, have a goal to break their previous ranking under head coach Greg Barnes.
"We would like to get into the top 10 this year," said Barnes. "If we can jump from 17 and get into the top 10, that's a pretty good jump. It gives us something to continue to build on. I'll lose two seniors this year, but I'll still have five girls coming back. They're great in the classroom, I don't have to worry about them not getting their classwork done or worry about them being absent. No matter what sport you're doing, they're the kind of kids you want to be involved with."
Senior Savana Winkler has consistently been the team's best runner. She ran a 13.21 time during their most recent festival in Claremore, which was good enough to place third in the event. Senior Kristina Holmes has been the team's fourth-best runner throughout most of the season but has finished second on the team during their past two races and ran a 13.50 time at Claremore. Savana's sister, sophomore Sierra finished third on the team in Claremore with a 13.55 time.
Barnes is also the Cougars' basketball head coach. Most of the boys running cross country picked up the sport in the offseason before basketball starts up and one player, freshman Cooper Hamilton, is splitting time as the football team's running back and safety while competing in cross country.
"It's not like it's their number one sport," said Barnes. "They're just doing it because I have asked them to and they worked hard. I love their competitiveness because they'll complain and act like they don't like it, but when we go to a meet they compete and give 110 percent, but they're ready for basketball too."
Sophomore Michael Mose has been the Cougars' top runner and finished the Claremore meet with a 19.26 time. Hamilton ran the team's second-best time with a 19.47 performance in Claremore and narrowly beat Mose in the Tahlequah-Sequoyah festival. Freshman Reed Trimble has been a solid third for the team and finished 20.35 in Claremore.
KHS has a practice meet in Kiefer on Monday with four other schools to prepare for regionals the following Saturday in Kiefer. The teams will move to the state meet on Oct. 26 in Shawnee if they qualify at regionals.