Piedmont cross country runs for state title Saturday

Blake Cope, above, and Piedmont run in the Class 5A state cross country meet on Saturday in Edmond.

Blake Colston

The week that Piedmont’s boys cross country team has waited for all season is here.

After placing second at the Class 5A West regional in Norman last weekend, the ‘Cats easily qualified for the state meet set to be held Saturday at Edmond Santa Fe. The boys will run for a state title at around 12:45 p.m.

For a team that’s won four races this season and has been ranked in the Top 2 for the last month, the time to close strong and win the first state title in program history has arrived.

“We’re right there where we want to be,” head coach Kelly Beck said.

Piedmont placed second behind only Guymon by 10 points at regionals, and the Tigers along with Carl Albert are likely to be the Wildcats top competition on Saturday.

“They ran really well and we knew they would,” Beck said of the Tigers’ regional performance.

Piedmont was solid again, too. Junior Blake Cope paced the Wildcats, followed by Jadon Barker, Garrett Bickley, Paul Welch and Hunter Morgan, who all finished in the Top 25.

Beck noted that Welch and Morgan likely started a bit too fast out of the gates at regionals, which didn’t leave them much in the tank toward the final leg. Correcting that small misstep could be a big key toward winning a title.

“We need them to run better, smarter races,” he said.

Beck hopes to have his top four runners finish in the Top 20 with Morgan coming in as quickly as possible after that Saturday. Beck will enlist a group of spotters to help keep track of his team’s progress, along with Guymon and Carl Albert.

Beck said he won’t need to give any motivational speeches throughout the week or on the day of the race. This team, he said, has been well motivated and has handled nerves well on all season. Beck doesn’t expect that to change.

“They’ve got a good confidence to them. They’ve got a swagger about them that they haven’t had in the past,” he said. “We’ve had a really good routine all season.”

The Wildcats will practice lightly this week to keep fresh in attempt to finish at improbable run to a state championship.

“It would mean a lot because I love this team,” Beck said of the chance to win a title. “I just didn’t think we would be in this position and that’s what makes it so much sweeter.”

Weather isn’t expected to be a factor with forecast highs in the mid 50s, similar to the weather that Piedmont ran in while winning a Suburban Conference title earlier this season.

Though Piedmont’s girls team missed qualifying by four points, a pair of Lady Wildcats will race at state as individuals.

Jayce Fallon (15th) and Sydnei Storts (30th) each had good enough times to grab two of the seven spots open to individuals on teams which did not qualify.

“I thought they could both qualify. I know they wanted it for the whole team and the team wanted that, too but I’m happy to see them make it,” Beck said.

Beck said he thought Fallon ran the best race of her season and, perhaps, career. Ava Woolery finished one spot away from giving Piedmont a third competitor at state.

The girls run at noon in Edmond.

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