American-Tribune (copy)

The Wagoner girls cross country team is running like a team that wants to make some noise when Regional and State competition rolls around.

The Lady Bulldogs took first at the Owasso Invitational on Sept. 26 and second at the Claremore meet on Oct. 3. Each time sophomore Jillian Strange led Wagoner, but finished second overall at both events.

The boys are also improving their times and look forward to Regional and State in just a few weeks.

Strange is running back to the form that made her an All-Stater as a freshman in 2018. Last spring, however, she fractured an ankle in a freak soccer collision during the playoffs at Fort Gibson that required surgery.

“I’m starting to get back to where I was,” Strange said. “At the beginning, I wasn’t doing as well.”

By looking at her times in the 5K at Owasso and 2-Mile at Claremore, it is easy to see Strange’s confidence is coming back. She ran 14:06.94 at Owasso and 13:15 at Claremore.

“Coach told us our times were better this year than last year,” said runner Liz Cantrell.

Cantrell turned in a time of 13:48.24 to finish sixth at Claremore while Frankie Clark was 10th in a time of 1:54.88. Serenity Eaton was 15th in 14:02.23 and Alexis Miller was 51st in 16:12.98.

At Owasso, Strange, Clark (14:35.43), Eaton (15:02.26) and Cantrell (15:04.49) finished second through fifth, respectively, to show how balanced the Lady Bulldog runners are.

“We’re excited about our chances,” said coach Tony Rosebrough of Regional and State.

“Frankie Clark has been a leader for us,” said Rosebrough.

The boys team is also showing promise led by John Vunetich.

“He’s running really well,” added Rosebrough. “He’s running lights out with times in the 18s.”

Vunetich was seventh at Claremore with a time of 17:19.88 as Wagoner finished 12th.

James Coward was 53rd in 18:57.62 and Richie Wiley was 68th in 19:23.82. Anthony Ripp was 88th with a clocking of 19:49.07 and Joseph Miller was 99th in 20:35.41. Albert Garay was 101st in 20:36.62.

Ripp is a two-sport Bulldog, but he’s doing those two sports in the same season. Ripp not only runs long distances, but gets plenty of running as a Wagoner football player, too.

At Owasso, Wagoner finished 12th in the 5K event led by Vunetich’s time of 19:01.03 that was good enough for 22nd place.

Other Bulldog runners were: Miller (51st) 20:30.29, Coward (67th) 21:51.32, Wiley (84th) 22:47.69, Ripp (87th) 23:06.88, Garay (90th) 23:39.65 and Will McKinney (95th) 24:03.43.

“All of our runners survived the heat in September and they put their heads down and got better,” said Rosebrough. “The boys are running decent (times) now and cutting down previous times and getting better.”

Wagoner competes in the Cushing Cross Country meet on Thursday, Oct. 10 before going to the Conference meet in Claremore on Oct. 14.