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Racing through time

Members of the Jarman Middle School cross country team take a group photo during a morning run in the “Original Mile” neighborhood. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)

Members of the Jarman Middle School cross country team take a group photo during a morning run in the “Original Mile” neighborhood. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)

As the sun slowly climbs above the horizon, a group of Jarman Middle School students race through the winding neighborhood streets.

The children are part of the school’s cross country team. Together they build endurance and speed, while learning about the historic neighborhood that surrounds their school.

“There is such a neat history here with the school and the neighborhood and why it was built the way it is,” said coach Destiny Warrior.

As part of the morning practices, Warrior and coach Spencer Whitford provide history lessons about the town’s original square mile. Jarman is among the oldest buildings in the city and sits in the heart of the “Original Mile” neighborhood. During their morning runs, students are often greeted by residents, many whom have lived in the neighborhood for several years.

“It’s easy to feel forgotten, especially when you have a beautiful Midwest City Elementary, but this school has rich history and we want our kids to be proud of Jarman and of their community,” Warrior said.

Warrior and Whitford helped reestablish the school’s cross country program last year. Their goal is to promote the sport of running with students. They also hope the program will help prepare students to run in high school.

“We want to get as many kids out as possible and help them feel comfortable with the sport,” Whitford said. “And we just want to get them to love running. In most sports, running is seen as a punishment and we’re trying to show that it can be a great thing. And something you can do your whole life.”

About a dozen students went out of for the program last year. The team has grown a bit this year, despite losing several students who are now freshmen in high school.
Jaylin Vinson, an eighth-grader, said he enjoys the sport and spending time with friends.

“I like running cross country because it puts you in the community and it teaches you to work hard,” he said. “I like waking up and running in the morning. It teaches you to push through it.”
Taniya Looney, a seventh-grader, joined the team as a way to stay in shape for other sports. She also runs track and plays volleyball and basketball.
“It helps me get in shape for all sports,” she said. “In track, I run sprints, but running cross country helps a lot.”

Students are competing in about five meets this season. Their schedule includes several competitions in college towns. As part of the trips, the students will get to visit college campuses.

“We’re doing that so they can visualize running at a higher level and it’s an opportunity to talk about college and career readiness,” Warrior said.

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