Tigers have historical day in Early Tiger Invitational

Byron Beers | Daily Press

Tahlequah sophomore Lily Couch approaches the finish line Thursday at the Early Tiger Cross Country Invitational. Couch finished 12th with a time of 17:04.12.

Personal records were running rampant for Tahlequah Thursday in its season opener at the Tahlequah Early Tiger Cross Country Invitational.

The Tigers captured their first Early Tiger team title since 2015, each of the eight participants ran personal best times and each placed inside the top 20.

“It was a team performance that I couldn’t have scripted any better,” Tigers’ coach David Spears said. “When you compete against Bishop Kelley, Broken Arrow, Sequoyah, Coweta, Grove, Keys and Muskogee and your kids come out and run that well...I don’t think I’ve ever had a group as a team that’s ran that well before. Everybody had a PR.”

Sophomore Jack McKee paced the Tigers with a fourth-place finish and closed with a time of 13:23.56. His previous best at the invitational was a 14:50.7 last year.

“Jack never ceases to amaze me,” Spears said. “I went back and looked at the 2018 results and was amazed at the time gained for all our guys.”

Junior Blaine Jones joined McKee in the top 10 with a time of 13:42.50, good for eighth in the standings. Ahmick Davis followed in 11th (13:53), Eric Burns was 12th (13:54.34), Cesar Sierra was 13th (13:58.85), Brady Perez was 15th (14:06.63), Eddie Barnes was 16th (14:06.97) and Jerron Sherrill was 17th at 14:07.25.

“These guys are experienced and they’re really driven,” Spears said. “We felt like last year at the state meet we fell short but in our hearts we felt like we were the third or fourth best team in the state. I think they’ve had a chip on their shoulder, they’re very motivated and they work well together.”

Thursday’s top individual was Fort Gibson’s Caden Goss, who ended with a time of 12:49.37. The other two to finish in front of McKee were Broken Arrow’s Jaxson Leming (13:09.15) and Bishop Kelley’s Brady Voss (13:21.12).

The Tigers edged Bishop Kelley in a tiebreaker in the team standings after both schools finished with a score of 44. Broken Arrow was third (53), and Sequoyah followed in fourth (113).

Couch paces Lady Tigers

Sophomore Lily Couch ran a 17:04.12 and finished 12th in the individual standings to help Tahlequah to a fifth-place finish in the team standings Thursday at the Early Tiger Cross Country Invitational.

Couch, who shined last year as a freshman, was at 17:13.5 and 20th individually in 2018. Couch went on to finish seventh in the Class 5A Cross Country State Championships in Edmond.

“If you look at the number of all-staters on the list, Lily had a great result,” Lady Tigers’ coach Elzy Miller said. “It was a better performance than she had a year ago. She definitely improved her time. She was one of the few returning runners that did improve. She’s better off coming in this year than she was a year ago. We expect her to get better every week just like she did last year.”

The Lady Tigers finished fifth as a team, following Bishop Kelley, Sequoyah, Coweta and Broken Arrow.

Freshman Emma Maxwell had Tahlequah’s next best time with an 18:35.07, which placed her 26th. Senior Rachel Geasland closed with an 18:40.58 (28th), freshman Nayely Gonzalez posted a time of 18:59.63 (33), junior Charlsie Whittmore finished at 19:28.15 (38th), junior Neida Aguilar posted a 19:59.46 (45th), and sophomore Vicky Perez had a time of 22:35.45 (57th).

“Emma and Nayely both looked good out there as freshmen, but I think we could’ve been much better overall than what we were.”

Broken Arrow sophomore Payton Hinkle won the individual crown by a large margin at 15:01.42. Following in second was Bishop Kelley’s Ella Eureste (15:17.50), third was Bishop Kelley’s Abigail Hills (15:34.56), fourth was Bishop Kelley’s Sara Crosley (16:16.19), and fifth was Sequoyah’s Kayla Harp (16:29.59).

Harp, Jeanes lead Sequoyah teams

Sequoyah senior Kayla Harp ran 16:29.59 and placed fourth for the Lady Indians, putting her fifth in the individual standings Thursday at the Early Tiger Invitational.

The Lady Indians, who finished second in the team standings behind Bishop Kelley, also received three other top 20 performances. Junior Asa Robbins was eighth overall at 1642.98, sophomore Conlie Smith was 17th (17:43.73) and senior Breanna Sierra was 19th with a time of 18:03.44.

The Indians were fourth in the team standings behind Tahlequah, Bishop Kelley and Broken Arrow.

Senior Cody Jeanes led Sequoyah individually with a time of 14:13.99, which was 19th in the standings. Santos Sanchez, also a senior, was 22nd at 14:22.86, and senior Morgan Ballew followed immediately in 23rd place at 14:24.64.

Winkler paces Lady Cougars, Mose leads boys

Savana Winkler, a senior, finished 20th with a closing time of 18:10.36 to lead the Keys Lady Cougars Thursday.

The Lady Cougars, who also got a 37th-place finish from sophomore Sierra Winkler (19:23.94), ended eighth in the team results.

The Cougars were led by sophomore Michael Mose’s 16:53.36. Keys finished eighth as a team.

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