NORMAN — The state cross country meet will be run today, with Class 6A starting at 2 p.m., and for the second straight year, there could be a Norman team walking away with a state championship.
Last year, it was the Norman High boys who took home a title behind senior Tanner Satterthwaite. And while the Tiger boys are expected to finish highly again this season, it is the Norman North girls that are a threat to challenge for a title.
The third-ranked Timberwolves, who won the regional meet by 25 spots after putting four runners into the top 10, are a young squad without a senior in the bunch, an oddity for a state-title contender. What makes this squad even more unique is there is no clearly defined pecking order. Several of the girls have finished with the team lead, and that depth is a big part of the team’s strength.
For instance, at regionals, North girls finished 4-5-6, with Abbey Mace, Isabella Rose and Rachel Chrisman taking those spots. The same three placed in the top seven at the Mid-State conference meet, but not in the same order.
“Out of the seven girls running, you never know who’s going to win,” coach Mike Ramsey said. “Any of those girls can be the best on any given day.”
Not having a clear top spot hasn’t hurt the T-Wolves. In fact, it’s driven their team to be even better, Belle Wallace said.
“It’s a mystery on who’s going to kick it up one day and run the best race,” she said. “It motivates us to push each other harder.”
That extra motivation has led to a big improvement this season, taking North from a top-five team to a squad with a chance to win it all.
“From last summer to where we’re at now has been a lot of hard work coming after school or on the weekends,” Mace said. “But it doesn’t seem so hard because it’s been a lot of fun.”
The North girls aren’t the only team with high expectations. At NHS, Mackenzie Wahpepah-Harris on the boys’ side and Hayley Redwine on the girls’ side are expected to finish in the top five and could challenge for an individual title.
The NHS girls are ranked No. 4 heading into state and are looking to break into the top three.
The fourth-ranked NHS boys will have its seven fastest runners all on the course for the first time this season, and hope it will give them the momentum to run their fastest team race of the season.
“We’re hoping to surprise some teams,” coach Scott Monnard said.
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com