Throughout their competitive season, the Coweta Lady Tiger varsity cross country team works hard on the course in pursuit of athletic excellence.
Just days before competing in Saturday’s 5A State Cross Country Meet in Edmond, runners Macey Brooks, Ryleigh Hale, Hailey Secrest, Lilyan Winter, Alex Harper, Anna Patterson, Angel Whisman and Brelee Burcham learned they have been honored for an achievement that did not include a 5K race. The young women were announced as winners of the Class 5A Academic State Champion award for their sport.
The award was presented at the conclusion of the State Meet on Saturday, Nov. 2 in Edmond.
The Lady Tigers have a collective grade point average of 3.959 on a 4.0 scale. Five of Coweta’s top eight runners have perfect 4.0 GPAs. This marks the first time for Coweta Cross Country athletes to win the prestigious honor.
No one could be more thrilled with the honor than Coweta’s co-head cross country coaches Bob Clements and Mike Wilson and assistant coaches Christi Ng and Jordan Kimball.
“When four of your eight top runners are freshmen, that’s pretty impressive!” Coach Clements said. “I think this honor shows that our kids work really hard – both on the field and off the field. They try to be excellent in everything they do, not just athletics.”
He noted on many occasions, he has witnessed his student athletes with Chromebooks open and working on homework while waiting for practice to start or for parents to pick them up.
“Some of our athletes are in other organizations as well and they are very busy. They just get it done,” he said.
Clements said he turns in Coweta cross country scores every year for Academic Champion consideration and the Lady Tigers have been close, but never won it. Last year, the honor was won in Class 5A by Bishop Kelley.
“This year athletes from the little old country town of Coweta won it. Plus, being among the top three or four cross country teams in the state as far as running goes says a lot too,” Clements said.
The Lady Tigers proved their athletic strengths Saturday by earning a fourth place finish at the State Meet.
“They did a great job, I am so proud of them. They work so hard!” exclaimed Coach Wilson. “Most of them set a personal record during the race. The course is really flat and the weather could not have been better. Better footing helps you out a lot.”
The coaching staff talked with the runners about their State Academic Champion award before the race and used it as a little bit of a springboard to say, “Let’s go finish — stay on task and stay focused.”
Coweta’s fourth place finish was an improvement over 2018 when the Lady Tigers finished seventh at the State Meet.
“We had four freshmen girls on our team Saturday, two sophomores and one junior. They’ll all be back,” Wilson said. “We also left some freshmen at home that really helped our program all year by keeping everyone competitive.”
Brelee Burcham was the first Lady Tiger to cross the finish line in 20:20.07. She posted an eighth place finish, earning All-State recognition in the process.
Other Coweta times and placings included Macey Brooks, 21:10.49, 21st; Hailey Secrest, 21:26.09, 27th; Anna Patterson, 21:36.44, 38th; Lilyan Winter, 21:36.99, 39th; Ryleigh Hale, 22:30.61, 60th and Angel Whisman, 22:52.59, 68th.
Wilson calls the Lady Tigers a special group of athletes who are champions in the classroom as well.
“These are kids who work hard at everything they do and they are so driven to do well,” he noted. “They are good kids who want to be the best at everything, whether it is in the classroom or on the course. They live that. They are champions all the way around.”