EDMOND — Kirsten Burnett has seen the change in her teammates.
Last year's second-place finish at state has flipped the switch for the Deer Creek girls track team.
Not only do they want to win state for themselves, but they want to match what the boys team accomplished last spring.
“We saw them win state, and we were like, ‘Wow, they actually did it,'” Burnett said. “Seeing them get it, and seeing what we achieved on our own, with just five girls scoring points at state and getting second, we saw that this is what it takes and what we needed to add to what we have to get where we want to be.”
Burnett, last year's Big All-City Girls Track Athlete of the Year, is a key piece to the Antlers' hopes of a girls championship. She won individual gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters at the Class 5A state meet last May, and helped Deer Creek win two more golds in sprint relays.
Now, younger runners on the team are trying to push toward that state championship goal as well.
“They saw what we accomplished last year and they want to be a part of it,” said Burnett, who is closing in on a college choice between Oklahoma Baptist and Oral Roberts. “We see everyone becoming more motivated to get better and be better.”
Burnett's success the last two years has helped to drive her teammates, like junior sprinter Lillie Martin and others, to build the team's depth to make a run at state.
“The team had some breakthroughs and built a lot of confidence last season,” coach David Riden said. “And it left them with a hunger, because they were pretty close to winning it, probably thinking we were a year away. So it left a hunger there for this year.”
On the boys side, Deer Creek has a different kind of hunger in its drive to defend last year's title.
The boys team is balanced throughout, but strong in the sprints, led by senior Otugo Ananaba, who won gold and silver in the 100 and 200, respectively, at state last year.
The team has been driving since the winter to repeat on the 5A medal stand.
“Otugo has been out there working just about every day since December,” Riden said. “He's encouraging other guys and talking to the new guys about what it takes to get back there. And I've seen the same with the girls as well, Lillie and Kirsten, pushing the others.
“Even when the workouts are hard, you can see there is a resolve with these kids to get through it and get the job done.”
Key dates for the high school track and field season
March 14: Edmond Santa Fe Wolves Invitational
March 22: OU John Jacobs Invitational
April 12: Yukon Invitational
April 16: OBU Bison Invitational
April 18: Edmond North Track Classic
April 27: Regionals, Class A-4A
May 3-4: State, Class A-4A
May 4: Regionals, Class 5A-6A
May 10-11: State, Class 5A-6A
May 14: OTCA Meet of Champions