They didn’t expect to be here, but Ardmore’s Devin Gordon and Katie Burrage will be the first to tell you they belong.

They didn’t expect to be here, but Ardmore’s Devin Gordon and Katie Burrage will be the first to tell you they belong.

The two are the Tigers’ qualifiers for the Class 5A state cross country meet Saturday at Mitchell Park in Edmond.  Along with two runners from Dickson (Savanna Donica and Emily Barrett) and two teams from Madill in Class 4A, south-central Oklahoma is well represented at this week’s conclusion of the cross country season.

Classes 6A, 5A and 4A will all be decided Saturday, with Madill’s girls chasing a second consecutive team title in 4A and fifth in six seasons. Madill’s boys are going for a second championship since 2008.

It’s new territory for Gordon and Burrage, who each will race in their first state meets after successful seasons. Gordon, a junior, placed ninth at the regional meet in Norman last week. He’s elevated himself to one of the top runners in the area, placing fourth at the Lake Country Conference meet in October against others from Plainview and Madill.

He certainly has the bloodlines. His father, Vincent Gordon, and uncle, Cornell Gordon, were runners on Ardmore’s 1987 school-record 400-meter relay team in track. Devin’s cousin, Aleia Gordon, owns the school’s record in the girls’ 400 meters.

Devin, who also runs the 2-mile in track, says his goal is to put his name up on the wall in the Ardmore fieldhouse next to theirs.

Those records might have to wait, however.  A cross country medal might be in his future Saturday.

“The first two years I was terrible,” said Gordon, the word “STATE” shaved into the side of his hair. “But I’ve been really proud with the way I’ve run this year.

When my body developed, I found out how good I could be.

“I said I’d try and get top three in state. Now I want to win this year.”

Burrage is back in cross country after not running as a freshman. She ran a half-marathon at the start of 2010 and decided to give cross country another shot.

She placed 33rd as an individual at a muddy regional. He shoe came untied during the race, but it didn’t stop her qualification in 14:41.

“It’s amazing,” she said of making state. “I didn’t think I’d get there for only have been running a year. I was frustrated for the longest time at 14:43 and I didn’t think I’d get to state. Now, I feel like I can do a whole lot better Saturday.

“I’ve done buttloads of running and it’s paid off.”

Ardmore coach Steve Wright sees Gordon’s and Burrage’s state qualification, a team returning every runner next season and a strong middle-school program as positive signs for the growth of Ardmore cross country.

“We’re really young and have grown throughout the year,” Wright said. “They’ve adapted from middle school to high school. Now they’ve seen what it takes to make it on the high-school level.”

Madill has an uphill battle regaining its supremacy in 4A. The boys won the Norman regional while the girls placed second behind Seminole. The boys did top Weatherford, ranked second in 4A entering the meet, 53-78, so there stands a chance that they can push past top-ranked Metro Christian, which won the Tulsa regional. The girls have steep competition in Metro Christian, Weatherford, Seminole, Cleveland and Anadarko.

On Saturday, the Wildcats will lean on the trio of Justin Shahan, Arturo Flores and David Duran, any of whom could be their lead runner. In girls, Ana Duenez and Araceli Flores will challenge for the top spot. Shahan and Duenez were each second individually at the 4A regional last week.

Erik K. Horne


OSSAA State Championships

  Classes 6A, 5A and 4A, Saturday at Mitchell Park, Edmond
  6A girls run: 10 a.m.; 6A boys run: 10:45 a.m.; 4A girls run: noon; 4A boys run: 12:45 p.m.; 5A girls run: 2 p.m.; 5A boys run: 2:45 p.m.