Members of the 2017-18 Ridgerunners cross-country team started their fall season strong, competing in their first two meets of the year.
Coach Warren Brumley said the first two races, in Pryor and Tahlequah, took place with the “best overall team conditions we’ve been in as a whole."
Student runners compete at all levels with both the junior high school and high school hosting teams every year.
The races are tailored a little different for the younger athletes with runs stopping at one and a half miles.
In Tahlequah, 217 junior high boys and 200 girls competing competed with Jackson Kernan finishing seventh overall for the boys.
High School runners start the season with shorter races working their way up to a full three miles by their third meet.
Overall the Ridgerunners girls placed sixth with tough competition coming from Sequoyah, Tahlequah and Broken Arrow, Brumley said.
Rory Geer finished with the fastest run of any freshman girl completing her two and one half mile race with a time of 16:13 minutes.
"At this pace she would be close to breaking the 20 minute which puts her in the top two or three at the state level," Brumley said.
Geer, who in practice runs a 6:24 mile, also competes in track and field and plays basketball with the Ridgerunners. She enjoys cross-country because, “I’m good at it and I like the team.”
Audrey Martin, a senior, finished two full minutes faster than her time last year at 17:40 minutes earning her a 17th place award.
Martin’s practice mile was 6:45. She said she “loves the challenge” and also competes in soccer.
Martin has been accepted to Harding University a private school in Searcy, Arkansas but has not decided if she'll make that her final choice.
Overall the Ridgerunners placed three girls in the top 20 of the race.
Ridgerunners boys finished 11th overall.
Brumley said the team is "ahead of where we were last year and have a good chance to be a force this year.”
Ryan McAbee finished in 14:38 which places him around the 18 minute mark for a three miles race.
Brumley said running in the 17 minute range will put McAbee in medal contention at the state level.
McAbee is a sophomore who ran his practice mile in 5:50. He enjoys the challenge of cross-country because, “[it] teaches you to get up and go in the morning.”
RaShawn Harding, a junior with the boys team, ran 15:28 and a practice mile of 6:10.
“[Iit’s] awesome to get off the beaten path and there is no better time than the morning to run," Harding said.
Harding’s teammate Edgar Reyes said Harding, “is the guy who runs with others to help them push harder.”
Ridgerunners cross-country team meets five days a week to run. Brumley praised Coach Jason Geer saying he does a great job helping with the junior high students.
On Sundays, Coach Alan Palesano meets the kids who want some extra running time at 7 a.m., to run Patricia Island.
The Ridgerunners season continues into October. The team will continue to practice daily to work on improving times before the end of the season.