SHAWNEE — Since the 2013 season, the Marietta Lady Indians have made a habit of not only wearing gold at the state cross country meet, but winning it as well.
SHAWNEE — Since the 2013 season, the Marietta Lady Indians have made a habit of not only wearing gold at the state cross country meet, but winning it as well. With five state titles since their first that season, Marietta has more than made a name for itself in the ranks of cross country programs across Oklahoma. Saturday afternoon, they added another layer to the resume. Marietta’s Lady Indians made it back-to-back state championships as they claimed the Class 3A state title with a total of 62 points at the Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee. The title is the sixth for the Lady Indians cross country program, and the 30th state title in the school history of Marietta. “It feels unbelievable right now,” Marietta coach Matt Appleman said. “I’m so proud of the girls. They have worked so hard and had great attitudes all season. This has been a really fun group to coach this season.” “Mandy (Sykora) and Kaelyn (Dobbins) mean everything to this program,” Appleman added. “They are the reason the program is the way it is. They are great leaders and the other girls follow their example. The reason we’ve been successful is because of their dedication and hard work. Every year it seems like it’s harder to win a state title. I took these for granted early on, but now I savor them because of how much work goes into winning one of these.” Marietta finished with four runners in the top 15 of the individual standings, with Kaelyn Dobbins finishing fourth overall as the top finisher for Marietta with a time of 12:38.90, as Mandy Sykora was close behind in sixth overall at 12:40.65. The moment was extra special for Dobbins and Sykora, as both seniors go out back-to-back state champions, with Sykora finishing as a three-time state team champion, and Dobbins a two-time team state champion. “This one is probably the best by far for me,” Dobbins said. “We’ve sacrificed so much to get to this moment so to have it come true means everything. Not a lot of people can say they went back-to-back as state champions. I feel like we’ve worked hard to earn everything we have.” “It definitely gets tough putting your body through so much during the year,” Dobbins added. “But having someone like Mandy there really makes it easier and makes everyone work harder.” For Sykora, while she didn’t finish how she would have liked individually, she was more than happy to substitute it for another state championship with her team. “I’m bummed that I didn’t win gold as an individual, but winning as a team is way more important,” Sykora said. “You work all year with your teammates, you don’t work by yourself. I’ve loved having Kaelyn on the team ever since she moved here. We’re best friends and we spend 90 percent of our days together in class and then running together. Having her hold me accountable has meant so much.” “I had no idea any of this would ever happen to me,” Sykora added. “I had some older sisters who were apart of the first state title for this program, and I wanted to emulate their success. I was hoping to just get one, but I’m very blessed to say I’m walking out with three.” Tanasia Randle was 12th overall with a time of 12:51.43, while Madison Lemons also earned a place on the podium in 15th place with a time of 12:57.89. Vanessa Rodriguez clocked in at 13:26.57, with Sophie Love at 13:33.61, and Abigail Alvarez finishing with a time of 13:35.48.