Ada’s boys and girls cross-country squads might be running over the same course at Saturday’s regional meet in Norman, but the Cougars and Lady Cougars will probably have to follow different paths if they’re going to advance to next week’s Class 5A state meet at Mitch Park in Edmond.
While the Ada boys, who are seeking their third straight berth as a team at the state meet, figure to rely heavily on senior Colin Earle and sophomore Steven Davidson, coach Drake Daniels said it will take a total team effort if AHS is going to send a girls squad to state for the first time ever.
“I’m counting on all the girls,” Daniels said Friday. “If the top two guys can get a high placing, that should pull the others up. I think the boys have a good chance to qualify as a team — we’re going in with that mentality, anyway, that we’re going to qualify and run at state.
“I think Colin should place in the top 10 at the regional — he should have done it last year, but he just had a bad day,” he said. “Steven has been our No. 2 all year. He’s made a real good move forward this year. He’s not very far behind Colin.
“We’ve been looking at it, and the girls might get to qualify as a team,” he said. “Our first five are in the 15s, and the last two are in the 16s. (Senior) Victoria (Lotter) has been running in the 14s consistently, and I think (senior) Claire (Pottebaum) can get there.”
Lotter finished 10th in 14:53, Pottebaum was 14th in 15:06, and Ada’s next three runners — senior Allison Stafford (16th in 15:17), freshman Taylor Hodges (22nd in 15:47) and junior Hayden Foley (23rd in 15:49) were all in the top 23 as the Lady Cougars won their first-ever team title at last month’s Badlands Cross Country meet at Byng.
The Ada boys also captured the team title at Byng (their second of the season), with Earle and Davidson — who finished first and fifth, respectively — being joined in the top 10 by seniors Zac Garcia (8th) and Hunter Bedsole (9th). Bedsole, who missed the last three meets this spring because he is also on the Ada wrestling team, won’t be at the regional, however, and that will put more pressure on Earle, Davidson, Garcia and the remaining team members — freshman Matt Southard, juniors John Garber and Julian Howell and senior James Tillison — if the Cougars are going to survive a tough 20-team regional headed by perennial power Deer Creek.
“We’re not as strong or as consistent as we were the last two years,” Daniels said. “Our last few guys are young (Southard, Howell and Tillison are all in their first seasons with the team), and we need them to improve at the regional if we’re going to qualify as a team for state.”
On the girls side, Lotter has returned from an injury to join Pottebaum and Stafford as the team’s leaders this fall.
“They’ve been my top three runners all season,” Daniels said. “Victoria was hurt last year, and Claire qualified for state last year, so I knew about them.
“Allison has been a surprise,” he added. “She’s been getting a lot better.”
Daniels said Hodges and Foley have also been pleasant surprises in their first season as members of the team.
“Taylor has been a real big surprise,” said Daniels, who is in his fourth season as Ada’s cross-country coach. “I didn’t know anything about her, but she’s been doing really well.
“Hayden is a new girl who just started this year,” he said. “She quit soccer and I tried to talk her into running track. She didn’t try track, but she came out again to try cross-country, and she’s been a real good hand at it.”
Jordan Spivey, a move-in from Texas who is also a member of the Ada soccer team, and junior Madison Gillispie round out the squad, which Daniels said has shown steady improvement since the start of practice this fall.
“Once we started practicing, I thought we were going to be really good,” he recalled. “Everybody’s times have been consistently dropping, and their placings are improving.”
The 5A portion of Saturday’s regional will begin with the girls race at 10 a.m., with the boys event to follow at 10:45.