Streaked with mud and meters ahead of his closest competition, Plainview’s Andrew Leahey crossed the finish line first. His teammates followed shortly, their mission accomplished.

Streaked with mud and meters ahead of his closest competition, Plainview’s Andrew Leahey crossed the finish line first. His teammates followed shortly, their mission accomplished.

The senior ended the Indians’ close-but-not-quite run in boys cross country ... and began the celebration for the entire Plainview program.

“It’s about time, isn’t it?,” Leahey said with an ear-to-ear grin after the Plainview boys ended an 11-year state championship drought.

It certainly was.

Leahey cruised to his first individual state title and the Indians’ boys and girls teams stormed to a sweep of the Class 3A state championship meet at the Gordon Cooper Vo-Tech Center. The boys won their first title since 1999, placing five runners in the top 20 — three in the top 11 — to beat Tahlequah Sequoyah 43-107.

The girls’ race led off the day an hour and 15 minutes late due to lightning storm delays. Once it started, however, it was never in doubt that Plainview would take home its unprecedented fifth state title in a row — 13th overall.

The girls, paced by individual runner-up Alex Davis, had three top 10 finishers and six of seven runners in the top 20, topping second-place Hennessey 38-90.

“Despite the weather, it’s been a great day,” said Kaitlin Moore. “We had a good team this year and next year we should be really good.”

So should the boys. Leahey and Jordan Pierce will graduate, but returning are five others. Jerred Morrison earned All-State honors in his first state meet, placing third in 17 minutes and 10 seconds behind runner-up Chris Lowery of Chandler (16:51). Robert Torres was 11th (17:46), Ryan Hicks was 17th (18:16) and Colby Thompson was 19th (18:22) to complete the Indians’ top five.

Isaac Growall (42nd, 19:09) and Pierce (58th, 19:29) rounded out the Plainview seven. No other school had more than two runners in the top 20.

“3A’s about as tough as any class in girls and pretty stout in boys. Plainview coach Jerry Naylor said. To do that kind of thing is outstanding.”

Favored in both races entering the meet, Naylor knew his young teams had a good chance at winning. He also knew a lot hinged on the unexpected.

The lightning delay was one unexpected in the pre-race preparation. The second was a muscle pull by Moore. The senior, who won her fourth team title and All-Stated (placed in the top 10) for the third time, gutted out an eighth-place overall finish despite not running at full strength.

“Sometimes when you’re supposed to do it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna do it,” Naylor said of the expectations coming into the meet. “It’s a tribute to the kids.”

Expected to win the girls individual title was defending champion Regan Ward of Beggs. Ward was out ahead of the pack but unintentionally veered off the course after following a line used in a collegiate meet. Ward was forced to backtrack and start from where she went off the course, yet still finished ninth (12:25). That opened the door for Cheyanne Choate of Hennessey to win the individual championship.

Davis finished in 11:58, 11 seconds behind Choate, and Plainview’s Makayla Miller was third at 12:07. Davis and Miller each were All-State runners last year.
Rebekah Hickman was 16th (13:07) followed by freshmen Alyssa Cunningham (18th, 13:12), Katie Lackey (20th, 13:15) and Emily Sherry (46th, 13:59).

“I wish I was able to give more, but when it all comes down to it, all that matters is that the team does well,” Davis said.

The conditions improved for the girls race, but the boys were hit with side-sweeping rain and wind. Leahey, second in last year’s meet, ran far behind Lowery at the onset, but closed ground and eventually broke away to win by 30 seconds.

“This is the best day of my life,” a still-smiling Leahey said after several post-race interviews in the rain. “It was great to have the team back me up. A lot of people think running as a one-man sport, but you need someone to push you through training.

“A lot of it is mentality. We used this race to help (motivate) us all year and we came out and performed.”

Walker, Blackburn earn top-15 places

Individuals from south-central Oklahoma also had standout races on Saturday.

Amber Walker of Marietta placed 14th overall in 12:49 and Tishomingo’s Logan Blackburn followed up last season’s third-place finish with a seventh-place result (17:26).

Walker has run well despite battling the flu the past two weeks and a potassium deficiency all season. Walker placed sixth in the 3A regional last week.

“I feel pretty good ... I wish the sickness wouldn’t have got me down,” she said. “I’m proud I can pull it off.”

Walker and Blackburn were presented medals from the OSSAA along with all of the top 15 finishers in each classification.

Madill boys roll in 4A regional

NORMAN — Paced by runner-up Justin Shahan, the Madill boys set themselves up for a run at the Class 4A state title, winning their 4A regional Saturday at Norman High School.

Shahan was second with a time of 17:40, joined in the top 10 by Arturo Flores (eighth, 18:00). David Duran (11th, 18:11), Dillon Martin (13th, 18:14) and Haden Bell (19th, 18:39) all placed in the top 20. Madill topped Weatherford 52-78 in points.

In girls, Madill’s sixth-place runner beat Elk City’s to break a tie for second as a team. Each team scored 87 points behind Seminole’s 49.

Ana Duenez was the top placer for the Wildcats, finishing second in 13:00. Araceli Flores joined her in the top 10 in fourth place (13:08) and Miranda Bray was 19th (14:02).

Madill will race at the state meet this Saturday at Mitch Park in Edmond.

Erik K. Horne