High school cross country: Mustang girls make history in 5K race

Defending Class 6A state champion Emily Helms said, “I think it is a great accomplishment that we won the first 5K in Oklahoma.”
by Ed Godfrey Published: September 19, 2012
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Mustang's girls captured the team title in the elite 5K event Friday at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

“I think it is a great accomplishment that we won the first 5K in Oklahoma,” said Mustang's top runner, Emily Helms, the defending 6A state cross country champion.


In Oklahoma, the girls run 2 miles in cross country while the boys compete in a 5K. However, three high school cross country meets this season in Oklahoma have scheduled optional 5Ks for the girls.

Friday's Dogpack at Santa Fe was the first. Helms finished second overall to Alex Davis of Plainview. Helms' teammate, Kyra Fuller, placed third.

The second 5K cross country race in Oklahoma for high school girls will be Thursday in the Harrier meet at Mustang's Wild Horse Park.

NORMAN RUNNER KEEPS WINNING

In boys cross country, everyone seems to be chasing Mackenzie Wahpepah-Harris of Norman, who won the Dogpack on Friday and defeated standout Chris Lowery of Chandler for the first time.

“He is without question the most talented distance runner to come through Norman in the last 20 years,” Norman coach Scott Monnard said. “If we can keep him healthy, we like his chances.”

SHOULD OKLAHOMA GIRLS RUN THE 5K?

Mustang coach Mike McGarry was disappointed that more teams didn't enter the optional 5K race for girls at Santa Fe. The majority of girls' squads chose to run the 2-mile.

Cross country coaches at the larger high schools in Oklahoma are pushing for the change. Oklahoma is the only state that doesn't have a 5K as the distance for girls' cross country.

“Anytime the girls go out of the state of Oklahoma to run it's pretty much a 5K race, so we are kind of handicapped when we go out of state,” McGarry said.

Texas just increased the distance to 5K for girls in its larger classes but is keeping the shorter distance at the smaller schools.

Norman and Westmoore are two schools that entered the 2-mile and not the 5K on Friday in Edmond.

Westmoore coach Laura Clay said she left it up to her squad to vote on it.

“They decided they wanted to run the 2-mile because that is the distance for the state meet and (Santa Fe) is going to be the state course,” Clay said.

Norman coach Scott Monnard said the Tigers chose the 2-mile for the same reason. Edmond Santa Fe will be the site of this year's state cross country meet for 6A, 5A and 4A schools.

Monnard wanted his girls to become familiar with the course, but he said that is the only reason Norman didn't run in the optional 5K race.

He thinks Oklahoma should, and eventually will, make the change. Monnard compares it to when Oklahoma played 6-on-6 high school girls' basketball.

“I don't think it's a matter if we are going to go, I think it's just a matter of when,” Monnard said. “It's an injustice to the girls, this idea that the girls can't do what the boys do. It's an old-fashioned way of thinking. The girls are so much faster and mentally tougher now. They can handle it.”

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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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