When asked about how his teams ran in the Owasso Cross Country Invitational on Thursday, Guthrie Head Coach James Strahorn responded with three words.
“It went okay.”
The Bluejays finished in second place out of 17 teams and finished with four kids in the Top-16. They did so without one of their top runners in JD Coonfield. The LadyJays finished in third place, with two runners inside the Top-10.
That’s where the Guthrie cross country programs are at right now. They are running at such a successful rate right now to where anything other than a first-place finish feels like a disappointment. Strahorn says he found himself being a little disappointed by the finishes before being called out on it.
“It’s funny because my wife called me out on being a little disappointed after the race,” Strahorn said. “I was a little down about finishing in second and third but at the same time, that’s second and third place and there were over 15 teams there, you know?”
The disappointment in second and third place finishes stem from the start Guthrie has gotten off to this season. After Thursday’s race in Owasso, the Bluejays are officially at the midway point in the year. They’ve run in five races and have won three of them.
“The guys have won three out of our five meets and in one of them, our own meet, those results are kind of skewed,” Strahron said. “We didn’t run our top three guys in that race. So when we’ve been all together, we’ve finished first three times and second once.”
The Bluejays were once again led by Trevor Sallee. Sallee finished in second place, coming in 2.25 seconds behind Jack Vincent from Claremore High School. Loren Husky finished in ninth place, Mason Barney in 11th, Grant Mayer in 16th, and William Knell in 37th. The LadyJays saw Mercy Dement finish in fifth place with a time of 4:19.75. Tori Wells finished in the Top-10 in eighth place.
Both the boys and girls teams wanted to win the meet. That’s where part of the disappointment came from. The other factor was the fact that they both finished a spot behind a 5A opponent that they won’t see again until they run in the state meet in November.
“The mentality has shifted over the past couple of years,” Strahorn said. “It was a healthy upset with the group. We’re not going to sit here and mope and hang our heads over it. It’s a healthy upset because they were disappointed in the moment but then followed that right up with ‘hey, it’s okay, we’ll see them at state.’ That’s what you want to hear as a coach.”
Strahorn also added that he believes his teams are having a good season. That would probably be an understatement if all you saw was all the finishes. But Strahorn sees the team every day, he knows what they are capable of and how good they can be. To him, they haven’t even scratched the surface.
“We’re running pretty good right now,” Strahorn said. “I think we’re not even actually near our peak, I really do believe that. We do a lot of our work outside in the heat and I think we’re not clicking all the way as far as physically right now. Once the cooler weather comes in and we’re able to really set ourselves up to be in the right mindset, I think that’s when everything could come together for us.”
The teams will be off until a week from today when they travel to Arkansas to run in the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival where over 120 high school teams will battle for prestige and unique Chile Pepper themed awards.