McKenna Hood and Lily Couch both broke school marks and carried Tahlequah to second-place team finish Tuesday in the Metro Lakes Conference cross country championship in Tahlequah.
Hood, a freshman, ran a 19:48.45 to pass Amy Hembree’s previous school course record of 20:40.02 in 2014. Her time is also the second best time ever on the 5K course. The course record holder is Claremore’s Laine Nichols, who ran a 19:23.52 in 2017.
“Me and Lily train every day together and I just feel like that constant competitiveness in practice makes us both better,” Hood said. “I wouldn’t be where I am, and I can probably say the same for [Lily], if we weren’t together. I’ve been in such a competitive environment and it’s just pushed me to do my best.”
“McKenna also does what she’s supposed to and works so hard,” Tahlequah head coach Elzy Miller said. “She’s motivated, and she wants everybody else to do better. She’s very coachable, she loves to win and she hates to lose.”
Couch, a junior, finished with a time of 20:09.62, which was just under 10 seconds better than Coweta’s Hailey Secrest, who ended with a 20:19.34 to place third.
“It was just hang with McKenna, push and hang on,” Couch said. “Our goal today was to be in front of Coweta, and personally, just hang with McKenna as long as I could. We push each other and it’s really helped the team a lot.”
“I’m thrilled to death with Lily this year,” Miller said. “Everytime out she’s been ahead of where she was a year ago, way ahead. She’s done a great job for us and has become a team leader. We look for her to set the tempo.”
Hood and Couch both set personal records at the Class 5A Edmond Pre-State on Sept. 26. Hood was third overall with a 20:19.75, and Couch was fourth with a time of 20:27.45
“They push each other,” Miller said. “They’ve learned to compete and they like to compete. That competition has made us better as a whole. Obviously when you’ve got runner that can go 1-2, it makes your team better.”
Sophomore Emma Maxwell and freshman Abigail Johnson also had top 10 finishes for the Lady Tigers, who finished with 40 points. Maxwell was eighth in the standings, running a 21:33.30, and Johnson was 10th with a time of 22:33.65.
Coweta won the team title with 28 points and was sparked by Secrest and Brelee Burcham, who followed in fourth place with a time of 20:55.51. Coweta also had the fifth, sixth and 11th place finishes.
Tahlequah freshman Katherin Ontiveros was 21st overall with a time of 23:44.93, freshman Victoria Pham was 24th at 24:07.01, sophomore Salendia Melo was 25th (24:11.97), freshman Kynley Frazier was 26th (24:48.22), and sophomore Kristin Campbell was 29th with a time of 25:00.36).
The Lady Tigers will be at a Class 5A Regional in Sand Springs on Saturday, Oct. 24.