Both the Boys and Girls Cross Country teams at Enid High are setting, and reaching, lofty goals, and running times not seen in quite some time from Plainsmen and Pacer distance runners.
When the girl’s Head Coach Mark Johnson took over the team last year, he only had five returning runners. Through his recruitment efforts, and new girls coming out, he was able to finish the year with 14 runners, and one state qualifier. That set up this year to be a breakout year, however, two of his expected top five runners have been injured most of the year. Luckily, a few girls have really stepped up and allowed the team to compete much better than expected after the injuries. “I can’t say enough about our fast runner this year, Eglan Gomez,” says Johnson, “this girl ran four miles to summer pride every day, worked out for two hours, went to help at upward bound, then worked until 10 or 11 at night. Her work ethic is off the charts and that’s why she went from running 28 minutes in a 5K to under 21 this year. It’s really cool to see. Esmerlda Solis is another one that has really contributed fast times this year after being injured last year. Her PR is just over 22 and she can really run.”
With Eglan and Esmerelda leading the Pacer pack, they came this close to winning the Big 7 Conference title. “We really competed at Conference. We had five girls in the top eleven, but Choctaw just beat us out. I was encouraged to see some of the girls, like Sophia Faulk, really competing though and am looking forward to regionals. We are in a tough region, but if we run some of our fastest times, we can make it as a team, and if not, we can maybe get Eglan and maybe Ezzy and Gabi (Hunter) to State,” says Johnson.
As for the boys’ team, 2nd year head coach, Justin DeClerck, says the team has come a long way from last year with running times that are almost as fast as the 2018 team that made the State Cross Country race. “We didn’t graduate any of our top guys last year, so we are a young team, but last year we got them a good base, and this year I’ve been able to put a lot of pressure on them in practice, which has translated into better races,” says DeClerck. “We started the year with a bunch of goals, and we are checking them off one by one, which I’m so proud to see.”
One of those goals was to win the Big 7 conference championship in both JV and Varsity, which they did on October 10th in Oklahoma City. “I went back 23 years and have not seen that we have ever won both JV and Varsity, and we did it this year, which was super exciting. Our Varsity averaged 18 minutes for the 5K, which is really close to that 2018 team. And I can’t say enough about our JV team – they are averaging about what the Varsity did last year (20 minutes). They are pushing the Varsity guys and really making them better,” DeClerck said.
By the time this article prints, the season will be over, but one thing is for sure, both teams have bright futures.