It has been a season of many firsts for the Ryan Cowgirl cross country squad.
The Cowgirls added to the list last Saturday by claiming the regional championship in the Class 2A division of the meet held at Waurika.
The Cowgirls will be competing Saturday at the Class 2A State Cross Country meet at Shawnee’s Gordon Cooper Technology Center. The race time is set for 12:30 p.m. for the Class 2A girls.
Ryan topped the crowded field at the Waurika regional with 58 points – the fewest points ever scored in a regional meet by the Cowgirls. Merritt finished second with 71 points, while the host Waurika earned third place with 73 points.
“The victory was the result of months of hard work, dedication and commitment from the girls,” said coach Steve Spangler.
The fourth-ranked Cowgirls did overcome some adversity to take the regional meet. While the squad wore the favorite’s role coming into the regional meet, the Cowgirls had a few nagging injuries and one runner actually suffered an ankle injury about one quarter into the 3,200 meter race.
“We ran well despite some nagging injuries,” noted coach Spangler. “This was a testimony to their mental toughness and their desire to win.”
The Cowgirls had two runners win medals, but were able to lock up the team title because of great depth. Ryan finished with five runners in the top 26 in the field of 110 participants.
Lilybet Harmon led the way for the Cowgirls as she has in all but one meet during the season.
Harmon’s time of 13:14.8 was her second best time of the year and the mark earned her fifth place in the competition. Her time was just one second out of fourth place.
Also winning a medal for the Cowgirls was Juliet Spangler. She posted a season-best time of 13:41.33 to claim the 15th spot in the race.
This will be J. Spangler’s fourth straight trip to the state meet as she qualified as an individual her freshman year and with the team the other three seasons.
The other three runners – Katlyn Dabbs, Lily York and Alicen Williams – were the key to the Cowgirls claiming the team title as they finished between 17th and 26th in the meet.
Each of the three girls posted their best times of the season. Dabbs was 17th with a time of 13:45.27, while York managed to finish 23rd with a time of 14:00.5. Williams came in 26th with a time of 14:11.43.
Also competing for the Cowgirls were Whittany Spangler who was 65th with a time of 15:58.40 and Gracie Stamper who turned in a season-best performance of 16:51.59 to finished 82nd.
W. Spangler’s time was the best among the sixth place finishers on teams competing for the title. That is significant because had there been a tie for the team title, that would have been the tie-breaker.
It was a talented field overall at the Waurika regional.
The individual champion was Kira Berkey of Hydro-Eakly. She covered the 3,200 meters in a time of 12:46.62.
“Our seniors, Lily York and Juliet Spangler have been tremendous leaders this year,” said coach Spangler. “They have encouraged, led by example and held the team accountable for their actions.”
The Cowgirls will join the other two regional meet champions, Watonga and Hooker, at the state meet on Saturday.
Boise City and Cherokee will also send strong teams to the state meet and the Cowgirls will have to turn in their absolute best performance of the season if they have any hope of upsetting Watonga, the favorite to take the state title.
Hooker, Boise City and Cherokee will also provide stiff competition for the Cowgirls if they hope to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish at the state meet.
“Watonga and Hooker are great teams that will be difficult to beat,” noted coach Spangler. “If I have learned anything this year, however, it is our girls love a challenge and I think they will rise to the competition.”
“I am proud of these girls – not just because of what they accomplish on the course, but also because of their actions off the course,” added coach Spangler.
The Cowboys had one representative at the regional meet.
Mason Adsit finished 67th in the race, which featured 105 runners. However, his time of 22:59.66 over the five kilometer course was his best time of the season.
COWGIRL HARRIER NOTES: The Cowgirls have qualified for the state meet for three straight years….Ryan’s girls won a total of six meets this season, which topped last year’s school record mark of five titles…The fourth-place ranking among Class 2A cross country teams is the highest ranking in the short history of the sport at Ryan….The previous best finish in a regional meet for the Cowgirls was in 2017 when they finished second….In 2018, the Cowgirls were third and in 2016 – the first year for team competition at the regional meet – Ryan finished tied for seventh place….This will be Harmon and York’s third straight appearance in the state meet….Harmon has three of the top four best times in 3,200-meter races in school history and will be seeking to become only the second girl in school history to post a time of under 13 minutes when she competes at the state meet….This was the first time in regional competition the Cowgirls had two runners on the awards stand….It was the first time in school history the Cowgirls had five runners finish in the top 30 in the regional meet….The top four times for the Cowgirls in the regional marks the first time four runners have posted times of 14 minutes or better….Juliet Spangler becomes the first Cowgirl in school history to earn a medal in two regional meets….Over the past three seasons the Cowgirls have won 13 meet titles – one of the top marks in the state.