Cross Country Ends Season, Looks to Improve Next Year


The USAO cross country team has come a long way and plans to build on their progress this off season.

Jake McGuire

Cross country season may be over, but Head Coach Leandra Johnson saw several things she liked about this season. She plans to build on these key improvements during the offseason and hopes it will transition into next year.

“One of the biggest things I liked happened in our meet right before our conference meet” Johnson said. “I had three to four of my girls set new personal records and two of my guys set new personal records, then I had one guy set a personal record at our conference meet.”

Several runners on the men and women’s cross country team set personal records including, sophomore Deborah Park, who had been Johnson’s second best runner on the girls side last year. She stepped up and worked hard to earn the top spot this year, Johnson explained.

On the guy’s side, freshman Elias Poolaw took the spot as the Drovers top runner and maintained it throughout the season. Despite his good season he will have fellow runner, Robert Dupoint and several new runners Coach Johnson is bringing in to compete with next year.

Johnson says, freshman Joanna Burkhead, impressed her throughout the season.

“She (Burkhead) was my biggest improvement; she has come a long way” Johnson said. “She sustained a knee injury early in the season. We thought something was torn and had to go get an MRI, luckily it was not torn.”

Johnson learned a lot in her second year and plans on implementing weightlifting during the offseason workouts to get her runners ready to compete next year.

“You don’t want your runners to lift to build bulk; you want them to lift to build stamina in their muscles,” Johnson said. “We’re going to start adding in weights three days a week in the offseason.”

There will be some new faces on both the men and women’s team next year. Johnson signed Shawn Harvey from Guthrie and Marissa Gordon from Pauls Valley. Johnson is waiting on two more guys and one more girl from Southmoore High School to sign with the Drovers.