Collinsville cross country

Matthew Budnik led Collinsville with a 10th place finish in the Class 5A state cross country meet last season. Owasso Reporter File Photo

Collinsville’s boys cross country team seems to be trending in the right direction going into the fall.

Under the tutelage of coach Eric Dutton, the Cardinals have qualified for the state meet at the conclusion of each of the last four seasons. Dutton’s squad enters the 2019 schedule with 17 runners at his disposal, the largest group in his 10 years at the helm.

“It’s a really nice problem to have,” Dutton said. “For those No. 4 and 5 spots, it adds some competition.”

There is, however, no doubt in who will be the Cardinals’ No. 1 runner. That distinction has goes to senior Matthew Budnik, who already has cemented his place as one of the top distance runners ever at Collinsville.

As a junior, Budnik both set the school record in the 5K (16:28 at Claremore) and finished 10th on the Edmond Santa Fe course at the Class 5A state meet. He is believed to be just the fourth Cardinal male ever to earn All-State honors.

“And he wants to improve on last year,” Dutton said of Budnik. “He wants to the break the school record again. He’s the best competitor I’ve coached.”

Budnik is one of several experienced runners returning for varsity action when Collinsville opens its season Thursday at Mohawk Park as part of the Owasso Relays. Junior Lane Hutchens, sophomore Aaron Shiever and junior Brody Captain are among those returning from the state-qualifying squad. A couple of new additions are expected immediate impacts as well.

“I really like our depth,” Dutton said. “I feel as optimistic and any season since I’ve been here.”

On the girls’ side, Dutton’s squad will not have the same luxury as the boys. Collinsville begins the season with just five runners in the program.

Seniors Zoe Voegel and Grace Coleman and junior Sarah Bell return from last season’s state qualifying squad.

Collinsville will try out a few different courses this season, beginning with a Sept. 6 trip to Camp Gruber as part of the Coweta/Union Invitational. A week later, the Cardinals travel to the Sand Springs meet and will compete in the OSU Jamboree in early October.