NORMAN — One hundred yards into the race, they were in the middle of the pack. A mile in, they were bunched around the top 10. But by the end of Saturday’s Class 6A state cross country meet, the Timberwolves were right where they belonged.
At the top, as state champions.
After the race, as the cheers grew louder and the results were made official, Norman North’s squad huddled around each other, one final gathering of the “pack” that the Timberwolves have become in their pursuit of the state title. With the year-long quest that begun after they finished third a year ago finally completed, they let themselves relax at last, crying tears of joy into each other’s arms as the moment sunk in.
“This is the highlight of my career, and to do it with my best friends feels amazing,” said senior Sheridan Spellman, who finished twelfth at meet, doing her part in a 67-point victory that saw the Timberwolves put three runners in the top 10 and all five scorers in the top 30. “We’ve been working towards this and we kind of knew, but to actually hear the words, that feels amazing.”
A group of eight runners who describe their relationship on the course as a “pack,” the Timberwolves picked up one of their own on Saturday, with Madeline Brown running her best race of the year to make up for Rachel Chrisman, who developed a side stitch midway through the race. The fact that North went on to easily win only further proved coach Mike Ramsey’s theory.
“They’re just a special group,” he said of the program’s first state champions. “Every day we would do something, they would want to go and do one more. If we ran five miles they’d want to run six. They have guts; they don’t want to lose.”
They showed on Saturday that they have plenty of talent as well. Sand Springs’ Cheyenne Walden won the race with a time of 11:19.50, but the rest of the meet belonged to the T-Wolves. Belle Wallace led the way with a second-place finish in 11:30.22, while Abbey Mace finished fifth and Isabella Rose came in sixth.
While North ran away with the program’s first state title, their counterparts at Norman High came out of nowhere to finish right behind them in the standings. The second-place finish — the Tigers’ best since 2000 — came by narrowly defeating Edmond Memorial, a team that defeated the Tigers at regionals a week ago.
Hayley Redwine led the way for NHS, finishing third at state for the second straight year with a time of 11:33.04 and drawing high praise from her coaches.
“Hayley has been the most consistent runner in the state and ran awesome today,” coach Scott Monnard said. “She’s a great leader for this team and has left her mark on the program. For us to finish fourth at regionals and come out here and get second, that’s a testament to these girls. We got everything they had today. In our program it comes together for state, and our girls were breathing fire today.”
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