Photo by: Christian Favalora

Grove cross country coach Warren Brumley has made a sizable long-term investment.

He has spent the semester and most of the summer training Grove’s junior high and high school cross country athletes, and everyone involved has already seen the returns.

Grove’s junior high boys and girls finished second the Metro Lakes Conference, and the girls team added considerable success of its own. Each team was filled with hard workers and much-improved runners, Brumley said.

Jace Getz, an eighth grader, was among Grove’s fastest this year. He was awarded seventh-place honors on the Metro Lakes All-Conference list. For the girls, sixth grader Rory Geer came in at fourth on the All-Conference list, beating out other sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

Geer attended and competed in a postseason tournament similar to a state competition for sixth-eighth graders and nearly won the 2 mi. race. She placed second; it was likely the most deeply talented race of the year.

Brumley said these are the days that build character, and he said he has been impressed by the work ethic of these young athletes.

“That’s the reason they had success – because they showed up,” Brumley said. “And it’s a lot of work; they realize work ethic equals success. I think the future is going to be bright for them if they keep that up.”

The junior high teams reported for practice every weekday morning at 7:30 for at least thirty minutes. Their practices began with mile-long races and eventually climbed to 2 and 3 miles.

The sixth graders competed in four meets against runners of the same grade and two meets with seventh and eighth graders as well. At Vinita, Grove’s sixth grade girls team came in ahead of everyone. There was no official team award, but Brumley found his team’s times were the best.

The high school teams will compete at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 at Oral Roberts University for the Regional Tournament.

Without a fifth member, the high school girls will compete as individuals. Six boys will compete as a team, with the chance to also qualify for state as individuals, should they place in the top seven.

Brumley said for either team or its individuals to advance, it will require everyone’s best performance of the season.

“It will, but that’s what it should be ,” he said. “The Metro Lakes Conference is tough, it’s not easy to run against these schools and place. I’m very proud of our teams.”

There is no mistaking this group for anything other than competitors.

The high school runners could be seen all summer circling the sports complex and surrounding neighborhood. Brumley would often wait at the stop sign by Shundi and E. 300 road as his runners finished their paces.

Jake Ingall, a junior, had prehaps his best season so far. He has medalled in all but one competition this fall. Based on his times, Ingalls has the best chance at qualifying for the state tournament, Brumley said.

“We’re going to face the conference teams again in regionals, and if our top five boys can run their best races collectively, then we’ll have a chance,” Brumley said.

Brumley believes his efforts have been wisely spent, but he is not the only one pouring into these young competitors. Their seeds their teachers have sown in the classroom have found good ground.

“I can’t say enough about their work ethic, and then you look at their grades – they’re 3.5 - 4.0 students; they’re top scholars,” Brumley said.

Running in the mornings and again in seventh hour, there’s little time left for these students throughout the day, on top of homework and other activities. Brumley says it was never supposed to be easy.

“This is a lesson in life,” he said. “There’s no guarantee you’re going to get that promotion, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get a medal, but you show up and you do your best.”

5A State meets will be Saturday, Nov. 1 at Edmond Santa Fe High School.