PONCA CITY— Pawhuska High School and junior high runners turned in strong performances in their first cross county meet of the year Thursday.

Setting the pace for PHS in the Ponca City Meet at Lake Ponca Park was senior Tristen Tucker, who finished ninth in the varsity boys’ division.

Placing ninth in the high school girls’ race was Kaitlynn Moen, a Pawhuska freshman making her varsity cross-country debut for the Lady Huskies. PHS junior Aubrie Walker also earned a medal by placing 23rd in the girls’ division.

Tucker covered the event’s 3200-meter route in 11 minutes, 59 seconds, which was a second behind the eighth-place time and four ticks out of seventh place. His finish was 24 seconds ahead of the 10th-place runner.

Woodland’s Braden Clapp finished third in Ponca City’s high-school boys’ race. He trailed winner Garrison Blanton of the host Wildcats (11:15) and two Enid runners. Pawhuska senior Nathan Richardson was 25th across the finish line.

Moen clocked a 3200-meter time of 15:23 and Walker finished in 16:37. Enid’s Alex Hernandez won in 12:59, which was 19 seconds faster than runnerup Noel Lawver of Ponca City.

Lady Huskie sophomore Blake Allen barely missed winning a medal in the high school girls’ division, as she placed 31st (18:23). Close behind were PHS teammates Marcy Bruce in 32nd place and Alexis Bighorse in 33rd.

Pawhuska’s Dalton Hurd was eighth and A.J. Soliano placed ninth in the boys’ junior-high division. Arianna Soliano of the Lady Huskies placed 10th in the junior high girls’ meet. Junior high events were contested at 1600 meters.

Tucker and Walker are both past state qualifiers for PHS. At last year’s Class 2A state meet, Tucker placed 31st despite running with a bronchial infection.

Walker finished 38th in the state 3A two years ago as a freshman. She narrowly missed qualifying for last season’s 2A championships. (Her times would have advanced her to state in four of Oklahoma’s six cross-country divisions.)

Debra Richardson is Pawhuska’s new cross-country coach.

The next cross-country competition for the Huskies/Lady Huskies will be Bartlesville’s Jeff Potter Memorial Meet on Saturday. First starting time is 9 a.m. at Madison Middle School. On Sept. 17, the local runners are to compete at Oilton and they’re scheduled for a Sept. 22 meet in Cleveland. At least two other events are on the local slate before the Regional Meet on Oct. 15.