NORMAN — Norman High will once again play host to one of the state’s largest cross country events when almost 60 schools will be represented at today’s OK Runner Classic, set to begin at 10:30 a.m. at the NHS cross country course.
The course runs near and alongside the NHS soccer and softball complexes behind Irving Middle School in east Norman.
Area programs are only the beginning of the contingent running on the Tigers’ course today.
In addition to NHS, Norman North, Moore, Westmoore, Southmoore and Noble being among the Class 5A and 6A programs on hand, 22 other boys and girls programs will be competing in the big school races that go off at 1:30 p.m. (girls) and 2:30 p.m. (boys).
Of the 28 smaller programs represented in the Class 2A, 3A and 4A races (girls at 10:30 a.m., boys at 11:30), Community Christian and Little Axe are among them.
In its eighth year, the event often acts as a preview to the regional meet on the west side of the state, only bigger. That’s particularly true this year, as the NHS course will play host to a regional meet on Oct. 19.
In the recent past, with runner’s like Parker Bowles and Tanner Satterthwaite, the home-standing Tigers have not only had one of the best team’s at the meet, but maybe the best runner, period.
Among the boys, that may not be true this time around, though the Tigers believe they have what it takes to turn in a big season, relying more on depth than a fantastic individual.
“We have a lot of youngsters that will be making their varsity debut,” NHS coach Scott Monnard said. “The team you will see will not resemble the squad we put out at state. We have a lot of room for improvement and we expect to peak at the state meet like we typically do.”
The state cross country meet happens Oct. 26 at Edmond’s Mitch Park.
Yet, if the NHS boys don’t have one of the state’s top individuals, the NHS girls certainly do in Hayley Redwine, who is the top returning runner in Class 6A, having finished third at last year’s state meet.
Tiger girls coach Suzy Rojas believes her team will prove itself to be more than a standout individual as it goes about trying to qualify for a 15th straight state meet.
“The girls have a chance to surprise some people in the next two months,” she said. “They have been locked in and have had a great attitude … They have been a fun group to coach and we are eager to run against a great field.”
A huge meet, every varsity race will be followed by a junior varsity race. And, after the boys big-school junior varsity race goes off at 3 p.m., two all-classes junior high races will go off at 4:30 (girls) and 5 p.m. (boys).
A runner’s paradise, the event will only shut down after about seven hours of racing.
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