At Saturday’s state Class 4A meet in Edmond, the defending champion Madill Wildcats boys and girls teams are going to have to be on their best.

At Saturday’s state Class 4A meet in Edmond, the defending champion Madill Wildcats boys and girls teams are going to have to be on their best.

Both the girls and boys teams will try to fend off the mass of teams vying to stop the Cats’ burgeoning dynasty. Those teams better catch Madill now, because they might not have the slightest chance in the foreseeable future.

The Wildcats are running for their third consecutive boys title and their fourth straight girls crown. What should be terrifying to the teams trying to beat them on Saturday are the grade levels of Madill’s best runners.

Only one of the top seven runners from the girls and boys teams combined is a senior. The girls team even has two freshmen running in their top seven. Young talent combined with championship experience is a deadly combination for a group that coach Ron Love said is just beginning to find its focus.

“Sometimes it’s been tough for them to understand the need to be on the same page as a team,” Love said. “In the beginning, there was an attitude of ‘I did OK, so what if so-and-so didn’t do good.’ Now, I see them talk amongst each other before races about what is expected from each other to win.”

It would be strange not to expect temporary lapses in concentration from a group of teens, but, on Saturday, Love is counting on that focus he preaches. He’ll need that in order to beat his biggest challengers in Seminole and Santa Fe South.

For the girls, Seminole has been chasing their title-paved footsteps since Love’s arrival eight years ago. The Chieftains have never beaten the Wildcats at state, but field a team that finished first in the 4A East Regional by 38 points over second-place Jay.

Seminole pacesetters Casidy Ashcraft and Kati Grandstaff offer a counter-punch to Madill’s top two runners, Kelsey Moore (second at regionals) and Kadie Peoples (fourth).
Love sees his team’s tradition as an advantage come race time.

“We are actually pretty evenly matched,” Love said. “They (Seminole) beat us by 27 points at the pre-state meet, but Seminole has never won state. Kelsey and Kadie were on that group that won the past two (state championships) and they want to hang on to that winning feeling.” 

The boys have even more of a test in Santa Fe South, who have beaten them three times already in 2008. Santa Fe’s was missing its best runner in its only loss to the Wildcats this season.

Love admits that the Saints have had his team’s number this season, but is counting on multi-sport star Jose Flores to come through for Madill. For a majority of the season, the 6-foot-1 Flores has split time between running for Love and training for the upcoming basketball season.

For the weeks leading up to the regional and state meets, Flores has been able to devote his practice time solely to cross country,

“It’s going to be real tight for the boys,” Love said. “We graduated a lot of seniors last year, but Alex (Mendoza), Marcos (Duran) and Jose were all on the team when they won the first state title.”

In the boys team’s last clash with Santa Fe at regionals, the Saints won 32-36. On Saturday, can the boys get over the Saints’ edge?

“It’s never good to go into state thinking you don’t have a chance to win,” Love said about his team’s chances.

“The kids are finally taking to what I said. I tell them to be prepared, not scared.”

Erik K. Horne
(580) 220-6522