NORMAN — The first day of class may still be weeks away, but the cross-country preseason is already well underway. Practice for both Norman High and Norman North is in full swing, and both schools have talented athletes ready to run.
The season begins on Aug. 17 for NHS with a duel against Westmoore, while North will start its season Labor Day weekend at the Brookhaven run.
The biggest name is NHS senior Hayley Redwine, who finished third at state a year ago. Both of the girls she lost to last year have graduated, and she enters the season as one of the top runners in any class in the state.
“She’s going to garner a lot of attention this year,” coach Suzy Rojas said. “She will have a target on her back from the other teams in the state and another target for college recruiters.”
A handful of colleges, including OCU and OU, have already begun recruiting Redwine. Behind her, Rojas hopes her team can finish in the top three in the state. Camille Henry and Bailey Talmadge are a strong pair behind her, and the Tigers have several other runners competing for the final spots.
On the boys’ side, a squad that has made state seven years in a row will start the season with one of its most inexperienced rosters in years. Only one varsity runner remains from the 2011 state title team, and that is senior Varun Ennamuri. Coach Scott Monnard also is looking toward Kevin Ramos, Andrew Meiller, Sean Corbly and Luke Wilson to lead the team.
“This is the biggest opportunity these kids have had in years in terms of getting a chance to make varsity,” he said. “We have some quality runners that have just been too young or haven’t had the chance to compete at the varsity level yet. We lost a lot of veterans that were battle-tested. But a lot of people are counting us out, and that’s refreshing. The upper classmen are going to have to really step things up if we are going to have the type of team that many across the state have grown accustomed to seeing.”