This summer while most kids were spending time sleeping late and lazing around at the lake, Indian Cross Country runners have demonstrated their commitment by adhering to a strict summer training regimen.

“All of our high school runners have been running six days a week all summer long,” said Coach Matt Appelman. “They’ve run well over 200 miles.”

It’s that kind of dedication that’s created one of the most successful cross country programs in the state right here in Marietta, Oklahoma.

The Indians and Lady Indians have eight team state titles and numerous individual titles, but they’re greedy. They’d like to have a couple more.

For the boys team, that could be an uphill battle, as it will be a year of rebuilding.

“We lost a lot last year,” Appelman said. “Zane Nutter, Preston Whisenhunt, and Chase Waterhouse will all be running in college this fall. With the three of them and Antonio Valenzuela graduating, that means we lost four kids from the state’s top 30 last year.

“You don’t lose that much and just bounce back, but we’ve got some younger kids that we’re expecting a lot from.”

Kyler Williams, sophomore, is running well, and Appelman and staff have their eyes on Wyatt Vinson, an incoming freshman. The team will be young and untested, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good.

“We’re going to be a lot better than people expect us to be,” Appelman remarked. “It’ll be hard for us to win a state championship, but not out of the question.”

The girls, however, are another story altogether.

“Our girls team will be loaded,” stated Appelman. “We return everybody from  last year’s state championship team, and we are adding a couple of new girls that could have a huge impact on the team.”

The team returns seniors Mandy Sykora and Kaelyn Dobbins, who were in the state’s top four last year, as well as senior Vegas Bell and sophomore All-Stater Vanessa Rodriguez.

Two additions to the team about which the coaching staff is particularly enthused are incoming freshman Tanasia Randle and junior Madison Lemons.

“Tanasia could possibly have a breakout year,” Appleman said, “and Madison, although she’s never run cross country before, qualified in four events for the state track meet last year, so I think she could have a good season. It’ll take some time for these girls to gain experience, but they’ve both got a ton of talent and potential.”

And speaking of potential, Appleman believes that the potential is there for this year’s girls to set some school records, and – who knows – maybe some others, too.

“We have more depth than we’ve ever had before,” he said, “so earning a varsity spot won’t be easy. I think we are going to be really, really good this year.”

The team opens their season August 17 at the Ardmore Practice Meet. Next is the Marietta meet on August 24.

It could be a good year to be an Indian cross country fan.