McALESTER — All five runners on McAlester’s junior high cross country team set personal records at the 20th Annual Jr. High All-Star Championships on Oct. 18 at Woodson Park in Oklahoma City.
To finish second in 5A, the Jr. Buffs just needed a sixth runner.
Both Carl Albert and McAlester scored 56 points at the meet, but because Carl Albert entered 10 racers, it took the second-place tiebreaker, dropping McAlester to third.
Tahlequah won 5A with 55 points.
“I’ve been coaching for like 25 years, probably, and that is the most exciting meet I’ve ever been to,” McAlester coach Susanne Carney said Wednesday.
“They run with such passion.”
Jake Rattan led his team as he’s done all season, finishing the two-mile race first in his class in 11 minutes even. Rattan said he usually tries to run just behind the front pack for the first 800 meters of the race, then burst in front and set the pace for the remaining 2,400 meters.
“Try to stay at a pace that’s hard for anybody to keep up,” Rattan said.
“When you pass people, it breaks them down mentally, and they start going slower.”
Carney said Rattan and a Tahlequah runner jockeyed for first throughout the second half of the race. But after Jake made his final push, the Tahlequah runner fell all the way back to third.
“I’ve lived with him my entire life, and I’ve never seen him tired,” Matt Rattan, Jake’s brother and teammate, said of Jake.
“He’s efficient,” assistant coach Josh Carney added. “There’s no wasted movement.”
Jr. Buffs trio Isaac Briggs, Cody Norriss and Matt Rattan finished ninth, 10th and 12th, respectively. Coach Carney said the three tried to run together at the championship to push other runners into lower finishes, a cross country strategy known as “displacement.”