By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
A new season comes with high expectations and some changes for the Carl Albert High School cross country teams.
The school added a new coach this year with James MacMahon. Coach Bill Case will lead the girls team and MacMahon is coaching the boys.
MacMahon is a veteran coach with 23 years of experience. He spent 16 years at Western Heights and also coached at Choctaw and Bethany before coming to Carl Albert.
“I’m really excited to be a Titan and part of the high standards and winning tradition here,” MacMahon said.
The girls return nearly their entire varsity lineup from a year ago and have added a few talented newcomers.
Ashlee Davison is the team’s top returner. She finished 16th at state last year as a sophomore while setting the school record with a time of 20:27.32. Davison also competed in the Oklahoma-Arkansas all-star dual meet.
“Her goal is to be a top 10 runner and she’s not too far off of that now,” Case said. “Her plan is to break 20 minutes in the 5k.”
McKenna Barnard, Avery Hurst, Bailey Gaiski, Kaley Plouff and Kebryana Thomas also return.
“This is probably the most experienced team we’ve had,” Case said. “Many of these girls have been running since middle school. Some have been running the same times since their freshman year and it’s time for them to step up.”
The Lady Titans added a couple of new runners who could push for varsity spots. Lilly Ross, who ran cross country in middle school, and freshman Skylar Anderson, a transfer student from Jones, will both be competing for varsity positions.
“Lilly could be running varsity for us, and Skylar is doing really well,” Case said. “That has caused some of the girls to step up their game.”
With the level of talent and experience, the Lady Titans expect to compete for a state title this fall.
“Last year, we were sitting about No. 5 or 6 most of the year and did not have a good race at state,” Case said. “We’ll be disappointed if we finish anywhere above fifth at state.”
The Carl Albert boys team has a little rebuilding to do. The team lost the returning state champion Terrance Allen, whose family moved due to the military.
Senior Joshua Robinson was the team’s next best runner last year and will look to carry the load this year. Fellow senior William Plouff, who did not run last year, should also be a leader on varsity.
“We have an experienced group and a couple of the kids did not run last year but we’re excited to see what they can do,” MacMahon said. “We have some talent out there, but you never know until you race others.”
Carl Albert kicks off the year with their annual Titan 5k Fun Run. The event is open to the community and team runners. The following week, the team will host the Titan Invitational on Sept. 2.