For 27 straight years, the Mustang Broncos have raced for the state championship in Oklahoma’s highest class.
It’s a streak Greg Osborne knows well.
It’s also an accomplishment he wants to become somewhat of an afterthought for the program. Instead of being one of the top seven teams from a regional, the Mustang coach wants his squad to move closer to the front of the pack.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment and something we’re very proud of, and we use it as motivation” he said. “But we don’t want to barely get in. We want to compete for the podium.”
The Broncos return three of their top runners from last year, including Carol Le (Sr.), Emerson Hodde (Jr.), and Madison Smith (Jr.), as well as fresh faces and returners Osborne says will make an impact in 2023.
Le will looked to pace the pack, coming off a stellar junior season. She was the team’s No. 2 runner all year, including the regional meet at Wild Horse Park and the state championship meet at Edmond Santa Fe.
She placed 28th in the regional (22:35.65) and 56th at state (21:01.03).
“Not only will Carol be the top runner, but being a senior at the same time means she will carry that double leadership role,” Osborne said. “The girls will look up to her personally and at how she handles leading the team in workouts and race reps. She’s a really good kid so we know she will do great at leading by example.”
Osborne says Hodde, who placed 46th in the regional (24:07.37) and 85th at state (22:31.23), didn’t quite reach a “point of happiness” last season, but she is getting closer to her full potential.
“I don’t think she was ever really proud of her performance,” he said. “But she has worked hard on her form and trying to clean some things up and we think that’s going to take a lot of time off overall. She has looked really great this summer and says she feels good and confident. It will be fun to see her continue to improve.”
Madison Smith (Jr.), who placed 63rd in the 2022 regional (27:17.60) and 88th at state (22:42.53), will also be back and looking to lock down a spot in the team’s top-seven. Claire Schriver (So.), who placed 50th in the regional (24:42.90) and 80th at state (22:04.17), will likely be out with an injury to start the season.
Morgan McClain (So.), Kiara Smith (Sr.), Lauren Vivier (Jr.), newcomer Julia Sroczynski (So.), and Jayci Klopfenstein (Fr.) should all be in the mix to move into varsity roles.
“Some of them are new and some ran JV last season,” Osborne said. “But now they’re in a position to step up and help lead the team. They’ve put in a lot of work this summer and in the offseason, so we’re excited to see what they can do during the season.”
Osborne said the team focuses each day on improvement not just individually, but also as a team. He knows with so many new faces, there will be a learning curve, especially with race strategy.
“I just want them to all take something from the first few races and move forward,” he said. “Learn something every time and figure something out. If this didn’t work, then focus on that. Something we can apply into the next week.”
Osborne is also encouraged with the weeks of preparation leading into the first meet at Deer. Creek.
“We’ve looked a lot better lately,” he said. “We’ll see how things go and then we’ll have a much better idea of what we’re going to look like.
“With so many different runners, you never know what can happen. Someone or a few may surprise you. It’s about staying strong mentally and improving each time out. We’re excited to get it going.”
The Broncos host the Mustang Harrier night race this Saturday – one of the most unique races and the only one held under the lights.
The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at Wild Horse Park. Food trucks will be on site as well as the Mustang High School drum line.