“It gave my knees a good chance to rest,” he said.
As junior, Wahpepah-Harris helped Norman win the cross country state championship as a team by finishing 13th at the state meet.
However, it was last spring in track when he raced to the top and won the 6A state championship in the 2-mile run.
“That's when he really separated himself and instead of becoming one of the top 10 or 15 runners, he became the best distance runner in the state,” Monnard said. “That's only snowballed this year.”
Wahpepah-Harris' mental toughness was hardened by training last spring with Norman's Tanner Satterthwaite, who won the 6A individual cross country title as a junior two years ago.
Satterthwaite finished fourth in the state cross country meet last year to end an injury-plagued senior season.
“He had the fastest kid in the state that he practiced with every day,” Monnard said. “He started being able to hang with Tanner in practice and then it started translating into the meets.”
Wahpepah-Harris said he copied Satterthwaite's work ethic.
“I tried to train like him, push myself to that level that Tanner did,” he said. “I got to see him every day and how hard he worked and the passion he put into it. He definitely motivated me a lot. He still does.”
On Saturday, Wahpepah-Harris and his Norman squad will travel to Stillwater for the Cowboy Jamboree at Oklahoma State University.
It will be his first chance this fall to compete against the best runners from the eastern side of the state. Schools from Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas also will be there.
‘There is going to be a lot of really good runners there,” he said. “I am really psyched up for it. I am excited to get out there and compete.”
They are probably more excited to run against him.
“He can run like the wind,” Monnard said.