MIDWEST CITY — Six weeks ago, Piedmont’s girls cross country team finished in last place at its home meet, now they’re Suburban Conference champions.
The Lady Wildcats took the top four individual spots overall en route to winning the team title by 15 points over second place Shawnee, narrowly missing a perfect score.
“It was unbelievable,” said head coach Kelly Beck. “I don’t know where it came from.”
Beck thought his team had a chance to compete for a title, but the dominant performance caught him by surprise. Individual conference champion Julia Grimes (First in 21:50) led the way for Piedmont, which will run at 5A regionals in Norman on Saturday.
“I say this every week, but Julia just keeps getting better,” Beck said of Grimes’ wire-to-wire win. “She took off from the get-go and never looked back.”
Sophomore Sydney Lang, sophomore Josilyn Schenk and freshman Sydnei Storts rounded out Piedmont’s top four. Hannah Thomas was 10th overall. It was Lang’s best finish of her career.
“Sydney has the talent and it’s all starting to come together for her,” Beck said.
Storts, meanwhile, started slow but raced into the top four with a strong close to her race.
“She was 12th a mile in and next time I saw her about a quarter of a mile from the finish line she was in 4th,” Beck said.
Piedmont runs for a shot to qualify for state Saturday. A top seven finish as a team qualifies the ‘Cats for state, something Beck thinks is a lock. With a team running its best at the right time, he’ll guard against overconfidence moving forward, though.
“Hopefully we’re not so confident to where they stop working,” Beck said. “I think they’ll be very confident moving forward. Which is a good thing as long as we handle it well.”
Boys take second at conference
Paced by individual conference champion John Anderson, Piedmont’s boys took second at conference behind champion Carl Albert.
Anderson was first by more than 21 seconds (17:17), besting second place Camden Shaw of Carl Albert, and didn’t even attempt to run his best race, Beck said.
“We wanted John to pace Blake (Cope),” Beck said.
The strategy didn’t go perfectly, as Cope fell off the pace a bit and took eighth.
“He can let the pressure get to him a little bit,” Beck said. “Maybe it was just too much for him. He’s so good you tend to forget he’s only a freshman sometimes.”
Connor McIntosh was third across for Piedmont in 18:03, good for seventh overall.
“Connor was fantastic. That was probably he and Ethan’s best race of the year,” Beck said of McIntosh and Ethan Taylor, who was 10th in 18:17.
Colton Lindsey was Piedmont’s fifth scorer. Lindsey finished 19th.