To the outside eye, it seemed improbable on paper. After the loss of two-time All-State performer Luke Spurrier to Oklahoma (Spurrier finished 7th in the 2016 OKHSAA 6A State Championships), the likelihood of a deep run for the Highlander Boys Cross Country Team in 2016 may not have been much more than a dream. On Saturday, October 29, however, that dream became a reality as Coach Cindy Scannella and the Highlander Boys Cross Country team claimed the 2016 SCISA State Championship, the program's first since 1993!
Behind the power of middle schoolers Hugh Willcox (7th Place) and Joseph French (9th Place), the Highlanders dominated on their home course, earning PR's from most of their top five, which also included Nick Basile, Matthew Quan, and Aidan Powers. After earning the Region I team title, Willcox and French followed up their All-Region honors with All-State honors! Coach Scannella was named Region I Coach of the Year after a remarkable third year at the helm, where she led the Highlanders to wins in their final four events!
In addition to the quality day for the boys team, junior Maryah Nasir captured State Runner-Up honors as an individual, all while battling illness! This marked her 7th top-2 finish this season for the Lady Highlanders, who finished 7th in the team standings.
"This was a Cinderella season," said Coach Scannella. "If you had told me last year that we'd win the state title this year, I would have said you were from Mars. But the boys worked hard from the very start of the season, and developed tremendous bonds of trust in our program and in each other. This is a team I will never forget. They were not to be denied."