NORMAN — While much of the attention at Saturday’s state cross country meet will be focused on the Norman North girls, who are the favorites to win the team title, they aren’t the only ones aiming for a big finish.
North’s Ben Barrett may make it a clean sweep for the Timberwolves. Barrett won the regional meet going away, and has emerged in his junior year as one of the most dominant runners in the state.
“He’s going to be one of the best runners to ever come out of this state by the time he’s done,” coach Mike Ramsey. “He’s got what it takes to win the next two years.”
It’s been a meteoric rise for Barrett, who said it wasn’t until the beginning of his sophomore season he realized how good he could be.
“It took me a while to be competitive, but then I realized if I worked hard I could be good at this,” he said. “Now, I’d like to win.”
It’s an achievable goal for Barrett, who finished 13th a season ago even while struggling through injuries. Now that he’s accomplished his first goal of making it through the season healthy, the only thing that remains is chasing the title.
NHS seeks fifth straight top-five: Norman High’s cross country teams may not be running for a state title, but they are chasing history. The Tigers are the only team to place in the top five of the state meet four years in a row, and will try to make it five years running on Saturday.
After an encouraging performance at the regional meet, coach Scott Monnard said it’s a goal he believes the Tigers can meet.
“This is the time of the year that a lot of teams take that next step, and I felt we were one of those today,” he said after the meet. “Our goal is a top-five finish, and if we run a smart race we can do that. We feel good about our chances.”
Injuries crippling Tigers: The Tigers went to Edmond Santa Fe last week and walked away with a huge upset victory. But they may have paid for it.
Quarterback Jakcob Dean will miss Friday’s game against Putnam City West after injuring his ankle in the second half on Friday. He finished the game limping but won’t be on the field this week.
The senior joins running backs Darius Manning and Dupree Young, who have also been ruled out of this week’s contest. The Tigers have several options to replace him, and coach Greg Nation said the coaching staff is evaluating several options, including Levi Fredrickson, Jared Feexico, Travis Houck, and Logan Hensley.
There is some good news for the Tigers. Running back Ty Smith, who earned his first career start last week due to the injuries but went out late in the game to an injury of his own, will be back on the field.
Timberwolves in need of help: The most disappointing aspect of Norman North’s loss to Putnam City North last week may not be that the Timberwolves could lose the district title, because they are still very much in the race to win. Instead, the biggest problem is that the T-Wolves no longer control their own destiny.
The loss plunged Norman North into a three-way tie at the top of District 6A-3 with Edmond North and Putnam City North. Because of the way the tiebreakers fall, the T-Wolves have several routes to the title but need help in all of them.
For the Timberwolves to repeat as district champions, they must win out and have something break their way, namely either Lawton Eisenhower or Yukon knocking off Putnam City North in the next two games. If none of the three teams lose, Norman North can finish no longer higher than second or lower than third, depending on how the tiebreakers break.
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