EDMOND – Coal Phillips knows you’re not supposed to look back during a race. But the Carl Albert senior couldn’t help himself.
As he approached the final straight away Saturday at the Class 5A state cross country championships, Phillips glanced over his right shoulder and saw Tahlequah’s Josh Dick off in the distance. Ahead of him was a clear path to the finish line and a state championship.
“When I saw him (Dick) so far behind I saw so happy because I knew I had it,” Phillips said.
With a huge smile on his face, Phillips crossed the finish line in 16:55.9. Dick finished runner-up in 17:01.6.
Teammate Camden Shaw also claimed all-state honors with a top 10 finish. The junior took seventh with a time of 17:09 and the Titans came in third overall. Jacob Dodson and Matt Moler cracked the top 25 for the Titans. Micah Dodson placed 65th with a time of 18:33. Eric Aguilar and Blake Vogt were displacers at the meet.
Guymon, who put three runners in the top 10, cruised to the 5A boys team title with 43 points. Tahlequah was a distant second with 91 points. Carl Albert was third with 98 after taking fifth in 2015.
The state championship marked a huge improvement for Phillips. He missed the medal stand by one spot last year as he finished 16th overall.
Phillips knew Dick would likely be his toughest opponent at the state meet and tried to stay with him much of the race. After getting out to fast start, Phillips slowed his pace and stayed with the Tahlequah runner.
“Whatever Josh Dick did, I did,” Phillips said.
That strategy changed as the two breezed past the tennis courts on the final leg of the 5k race. Phillips used one final kick to surge ahead for good.
“After we rounded the tennis courts, I just ran my race and won it,” Phillips said.
Carl Albert coach Bill Case said his team had high hopes for the state meet after another solid regular season. The Titans trailed only Guymon last week at the 5A West regional meet.
“They were all disappointed that they didn’t win it, but I’m pleased with all of them,” said Case. “Sometimes that’s the way it rolls.”
The Carl Albert boys also won the Class 5A academic state championship for having the highest team GPA.