It’s the same old story for the Mustang Broncos.
Year after year Mike McGarry’s squad enters the fall with high expectations and lofty goals. Reaching the podium in October and contending for a state championship has long been the standard for arguably the most consistent program in the state.
2023 is no different.
The Broncos open the season today at the Deer Creek Field Run, beginning their pursuit for improvement and a chance to compete for the top spot in Class 6A.
“Make the podium first, that’s the goal,” said McGarry, whose team returns its top three runners from last year’s state championship meet as well as two seniors looking to cap their high school careers with even more hardware.
“With this crew, we could end up anywhere in the top four or five. It won’t be easy because even though we’re strong coming in, there are a lot of teams right there in the mix.”
Carson Patten (Sr.), Cameron Langdon (Jr.), and Noah Thayer (So.) return as what could be a three-man force for the Broncos. The trio finished 15th, 16th, and 17th in the state meet last year and the team will depend on them even more after graduating two of its top-five.
“That helps,” McGarry said of returning three top-notch runners. “They were really successful last year in helping lead the team to third in state and really, we could have finished second if we weren’t banged up. We’ll have a shot again this year, but they’ll all have to improve, and we’ll need young guys to step up.”
Ryan Cable (Sr.) and Luke Balliew (Sr.) will look to move into the two slots left behind by Jacoby Nance and Dylan Chaoomchaisiri, who graduated last year. Cable and Balliew both cracked the top-100 in the state meet.
“Luke and Ryan were both hurt in that meet so we’re hoping they’re going to stay healthy and then who knows what can happen when you add them in the mix,” McGarry said.
Young racers like Keegan Nelson (So.) and Sean Cappel (So.) could make their way into the varsity lineup throughout the season.
McGarry said the team’s leadership is spearheaded by Patten and Balliew.
“Luke and Carson kind of run the team,” he said. “That’s good because it takes the pressure off Cameron and Noah and the other guys. They don’t feel it as much knowing how competitive those two are and the way they lead. That’s very nice to have as a coach.”
After the Deer Creek meet, the Broncos will turn their focus to once again hosting the Mustang Harrier night race and defending their 2022 crown at Wild Horse Park.
This year’s event is scheduled for Aug. 26 under the lights of the softball complex adjacent to the park. The MHS drum line is expected to again make its appearance.
Mustang will also compete this year in the Westmoore Jamboree, the Oklahoma State University Jamboree, Pre-State at Edmond Santa Fe, and the Chili Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Broncos will then host the west regional at Wild Horse Park just 11 days after the Central Oklahoma Athletics Conference meet.
“We’re excited to host the night race again,” McGarry said of putting on the Harrier. “It’s a really unique event and the only race in the state under the lights. We get great crowds with food trucks and the drum line. It’s really cool.”
The Mustang Harrier starts at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday night, beginning with the JV girls and boys races followed by the varsity.