State Cross Country Preview: Titans gunning for state gold

Schoelen looking to make good first impression at state

By Jeff Harrison
Managing Editor

High expectations are nothing new for the Carl Albert boys cross country team.

They’ve carried them all season.

And for the seniors, it’s been much longer.

On Saturday, the veteran Titans will look to earn the school’s first-ever team state title at the Class 5A state cross country championship at Edmond Santa Fe High School. Coal Philips won the individual state title last year.

Carl Albert’s Riley Schoelen will compete at the Class 5A state cross country championships Saturday at Edmond Santa Fe High School. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)

“We always thought we had a (state championship) caliber team,” said senior Jacob Dodson. “And finally this is it. It’s the last time.”

Dodson is one of four seniors, joining Camden Shaw, Matt Moler, and Eric Aguilar.

Shaw, a two-time all-state runner, has been one of the top boys again this fall. He won the Pre-State Meet at Santa Fe on Oct. 6 and was second at regional last week.  Moler and Dodson have consistently finished in the top 15 in races this season and Aguilar has been the team’s fourth runner. Junior Hunter Mead and sophomores Jacob Larson and Ross Outhier round out the squad.

The Titans will have a little extra spring in their step after placing first in the 5A East Regional meet last week in Broken Arrow.  The team hit a little lull in the middle of the season, but bounced back in the state qualifier.

“We hit a stretch in the middle of the season where we had bad races back-to-back, but winning regionals gives them some confidence going into state,” said coach Bill Case.

Case believes Shaw, Moler and Dodson should have a good chance to earn all-state honors. The top 10 runners are named all-state. Runner 11-15 receive all-state honorable mention.

Winning a state title will likely come down to the team’s middle runners, Case said.

“We’re only as strong as our weakest link, and we need our four and five guys to really step up,” Case said.

The biggest challengers on the boys side will be defending state champion Guymon and Piedmont, which won the 5A West regional title. Piedmont edged Carl Albert at the Pre-State and Suburban Conference meets.

Dereje Himbago, of Guymon, is the favorite to win the race after taking the 5A West regional title in 16:28.

Carl Albert will have one runner in the girls race. Freshman Riley Schoelen qualified as an individual, after the Lady Titans narrowly missed a team berth.

Schoelen also has high expectations for her first run at state.

“I want to be in the top 15 and break 21 minutes,” Schoelen said.

The Lady Titan standout set a personal record last week with a time of 21:21 at the regional meet.  With a strong showing on Saturday, Schoelen could also break a school record time of 21:02, set by Madison Gaiski last year.

“She has a chance be in the top 15 and break the school record,” Case said. “She’s been working with the boys this week and they’re pushing her.”

The 5A girls race starts at noon with the boys race to follow at 12:45 p.m.

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