Lady Indians travel to Waurika looking for 9th straight top finish

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

A close-knit bond is important for any squad, but it goes a long way in a sport where finishing a race near your teammates leads to first place.

The Plainview High School girls cross country team has proven that during the 2020 season with eight consecutive top finishes, and the familiarity should go a long way when the Lady Indians take the course in Waurika at noon Saturday for Class 3A Regionals.

“I feel like our bond is really good, especially having great memories running together as a team,” Plainview senior Katie Wiggs said. “We ran together through elementary, middle school and now we’re seniors. I can’t imagine running with a different team. We have a good bond and we’ve worked so hard. If we keep doing what we’re doing, I feel like we can bring home the gold.”

The Lady Indians are in good shape to accomplish their goal with a strong core of five seniors, which include Wiggs, Olivia Heller, Madie Turner, Hadyn Hobbs and Jacey Keith.

And two of those girls knew each other at a young age.

“These next two weeks are exciting, but it’s also sad,” Heller said. “We’re finishing as five seniors. Me and Madie Turner have been running since second grade. It’s been a big part of my life, personally.”

Turner agreed as she said she’s reminiscing of the past when the group started on the line together at eight or nine years old. However, the Lady Indians know the successful 2020 campaign wouldn’t be possible without head coach Jerry Naylor.

“He is very helpful,” Turner said. “We put all of our trust in him. He tells us what we need to do, to get where we are. And we wouldn’t be where we are without him.”

Naylor’s success speaks for itself as the Plainview is looking for its 19th state championship. The Lady Indians' most recent title was in 2017 when this year’s group of seniors were freshmen.

“After 2000, we’ve either been first or second, but once, when we got third,” Naylor said. “We understand what we need to do. These girls have worked hard all year.”

Plainview also has a familiar course on its side this weekend in Waurika. The five seniors finished in the top 15 on Oct. 10 when the Lady Indians were last in action.

“We seem to be running pretty good right now,” Naylor said. “We have seven girls that can run — we have seven good ones. When you have that, it’s an advantage for you. I think we’re going to be fine.”

But there’s always the question of whether Plainview can handle the pressure of the big stage. The regular season is in the past and the next two meets determine whether the Lady Indians hoist a state championship on Saturday, Oct. 31 in Edmond.

“The girls have done this a bunch and I think they understand,” Naylor said. “Any time you’re considered the best in your class, there’s some pressure on you. But I don’t think it’ll bother them that much. They’ve been running with pressure for a long time.”