High school cross country: Edmond North sophomore Jaci Smith a 6A title contender

Smith is faster, trains differently — and it's showing this season
by Ed Godfrey Published: September 12, 2012
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photo - Edmond North cross country runner Jaci Smith poses for a photo before practice at Edmond North High School in Edmond, Okla., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Edmond North cross country runner Jaci Smith poses for a photo before practice at Edmond North High School in Edmond, Okla., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

“Nobody likes to see people in front of them. That's kind of demoralizing,” Smith said. “Last year, I used to be the rabbit. I would take off really fast and I wouldn't have enough toward the end. This year, I am trying take off at my own pace and maintain it, run my own race. I definitely have much more of a kick than I did last year.”

Not only can Smith run, she also is an excellent tennis player. She won the state championship in No. 2 singles last spring but missed qualifying to the state track meet as a result.

Edmond North's regional track meet was on the same day at the state tennis tournament. Smith played two tennis matches in Oklahoma City and then rushed to go run the mile in the regional track meet at Edmond.

Smith missed running in other events at the regional because she was playing tennis.

“I probably played four or five hours of tennis that day,” she said.

Fatigued from tennis, Smith still finished fourth in the mile run and barely missed qualifying for the state track meet. The top four fourth-place regional times qualify. Smith's time was the next in line. She missed making the top four by a tenth of a second.

“I don't want to make any excuses, but I think if I had fresher legs it would have been different,” she said.

Douglas thinks Smith would have qualified to the state track meet in the 4x800 meter relay, the 2-mile run and the mile run if not for the scheduling conflict with the state tennis tournament.

Neither have looked ahead to see if there is going to be a similar problem next spring, but Smith wants to keep participating in both sports.

For now, however, she is concentrating only on cross country and likely will oppose Helms again during meets the next two weeks.

On Friday, Mustang and Edmond North are entered in the Dogpack at Edmond Santa Fe High School. On Sept. 20, Helms and Smith should face each other again at the Harrier meet in Mustang.

The distance of the girls' cross country races in both those meets will be 5K instead of the usual 2-mile run.

“I like the longer distances. I feel like I am better at the longer distances,” Smith said. “I definitely expect her (Helms) to be at her best.”

by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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