Andrew Leahey has won a lot of races for Plainview in his decorated cross country career, but never a state title.

Andrew Leahey has won a lot of races for Plainview in his decorated cross country career, but never a state title.

That could change Saturday.

Not only is the senior the favorite to win the Class 3A individual state title but the Plainview boys, ranked No. 1 in the state, are in position to win their first team championship since 1999. The girls team is again the overwhelming favorite for its unprecedented fifth consecutive state crown.

“It’s been a goal of mine ever since my freshman year — to win a state title as an individual and as a team,” said Leahey.

The girls are out to make history again, but there’s a different buzz around the boys, who have come close in recent seasons but haven’t been able to match their counterparts. This year’s team, fronted by Leahey and supported by a stable of runners that will all return next season, give the program its best chance in more than a decade to sweep the state meet.

“After our sophomore year, we never thought we’d have a team like that,” said senior Jordan Pierce, describing the Indians’ 2008 team that placed third behind Metro Christian and Riverside. The young guys we have have grown and matured.

“We work off each other better than we have in the past. That makes us strong as a team.”

Besides Leahey, who’s rarely been challenged this season, the Indians trot out juniors Ryan Hicks and Jerred Morrison and sophomore Robert Torres. Hicks won the Lake Country Conference meet when Leahey was taking the ACT and Morrison has been a key addition in his first year running.

Torres, who along with Leahey ran for Plainview Track Club at the AAU Nationals in August, has made the biggest jump this season, culminating with a second-place finish at last week’s 3A regional in Lindsay. Colby Thompson, Isaac Growall and Pierce round out the top seven.

“We’ve been pushing (Morrison) to come out since sophomore year. He’s a natural runner,” Pierce said. “And Robert has worked his butt off.”

The girls have almost become a given — each season reloading and retaking their place at the top of the state’s cross country elite. They have a regional champion in sophomore Alex Davis, potential all-Staters in senior Kaitlin Moore and juniors Makayla Miller and Rebekah Hickman and a trio of freshmen (Katie Lackey, Alyssa Cunningham and Emily Sherry) that represent the next wave of great Plainview runners. Miller, Moore and Davis each placed in the top 10 at state last season to earn All-State honors.

Moore and senior alternate Lacey Burks admitted that whether you’re in the top seven runners or not there’s a nervousness to being the best team year-in and year-out.

“It’s a great feeling,” Moore said of being No. 1. “You get really nervous but you just go out and compete.”

Moore is looking to finish in the top 10 for the third consecutive year and complete her career with four state titles in four seasons. Class of 2010 seniors Amber Harper and Tess Lackey also graduated with four team state titles.

The tradition is rolling along.

“I want them to be excellent,” said Moore of her younger teammates. “To do their best and be everything they can become.”

Is the championship double inevitable? No. Probable? Yes.

The boys and girls each rolled over their toughest competition at the Lindsay regional, with the boys beating Marlow 19-49 and the girls also topping Marlow 23-67. The boys crushed Lincoln Christian, ranked second in 3A, 38-139 at the Oklahoma Baptist Pre-State meet on Oct. 8. Hennessey, No. 2 in girls, was handily beaten by Plainview 43-107 in that same meet.

If the boys can break through, it would mean the most to both teams.

“The team is like a big family,” Moore said. “It’d be fun to share the trophy.”

Erik K. Horne