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Spotlight: New Cross Country Course for MPS Runners

  • Athletics
  • District
Anna Aguilar

Education partners at MNTC created a 2.5 mile cross country course for MPS runners to stay safe, and build opportunities for meets at home. 

by Tim Willert for 19th Street Magazine

Joe Ely was overcome with emotion the first time he visited Memorial Park at Moore High School, where three student-athletes on a run in early 2020 were killed by a hit-and-run driver. 

Ely, the director of workforce and economic development for Moore Norman Technology Center, remembered thinking “that we need to do something.”

“Something like this, it’s preventable,” he said, “and if we’ve got resources here (at Moore Norman) that we can offer the community and this school system to keep that from happening again, we will.”

Ely envisioned a place where cross-country runners could practice, compete and be safe. Turns out that place was in a field right outside his office near the corner of South Pennsylvania Avenue and SW 134th St.

“It’s a safe place with around 30 acres in the middle of the Moore district that doesn’t really exist anywhere else,” he said. “It’s unique that we have this and there are no buildings built out there.”

In May, technology center and school district leaders, including Moore Public Schools Superintendent Robert Romines, Athletic Director Brian Fitzgerald and Moore High School Cross Country Coach Brian Givens, toured the winding, tree-lined 2.5-mile course.

“I think that it could be a great thing for the community,” Givens said. “It does get people off the concrete, off the roads.”

Fitzgerald said the course pretty closely mimics cross-country courses used by Moore, Southmoore and Westmoore high schools.

“We’re just thankful that the technology center is thinking of us and being generous with its facility,” he said.

Moore Norman Technology Center is a public career and technology education center with campuses in south Oklahoma City and Norman. The center partners with the Moore and Norman school districts and served about 1,400 students during the 2021-22 school year.

“Their students are our students,” said Carla McKinley, the center’s assistant director of workforce and economic development and a graduate of Moore High School. “It’s a safe place for them to be.”

The course will be maintained by the technology center at no cost to the district, Ely said, adding that instead of twice a year it will be mowed 10 times annually.

Additionally, the course could be expanded to accommodate the minimum distance of 3.1 miles for high school cross-country meets, he said.

Charlie Reichert, Westmoore’s first-year cross-country coach, welcomes the idea of a new practice course and a potential site for home meets.

“I like it because road safety is a big thing,” he said. “It’s good to practice somewhere where there are not a lot of cars or people to distract our practices.”

Reichert, a Westmoore graduate, was an assistant coach at the school for seven years before getting the head job. His runners practice at Lake Stanley Draper during the summer and Earlywine and Ruby Grant parks when school is in session.

“We’ve been out there a few times, just to get used to the grass,” he said of the new course. “I would love to host some meets there.”

The distance from Westmoore to the technology center – about two miles – appeals to Reichert, who said his team “doesn’t really have a home course.”

James Cox, Southmoore’s third-year cross country coach, said the new course gives his runners another training option besides a park or neighborhood.

“To have a cut course on a regular basis to train is appealing,” he said. “Most schools aren’t going to have that because most schools don’t have the facility space.”

Southmoore is located about 3.5 miles from the technology center. Southmoore runners would likely drive themselves to practice, while buses or parents would transport middle school runners so they can train with the team, Cox said.

The coach called the younger runners “the lifeblood of the program.”

“The middle school kids … can see what it’s like to be in a larger setting with high school kids,” he said. “Hopefully, the high school kids will mentor and encourage them.”

Moore High School, by comparison, is about 5 miles from the course. Givens estimated travel to and from the course would eat up about 30 minutes of practice time.

“The big thing for us is the amount of time it takes to transport the kids,” he said.

Givens’ distance runners split practice time between Buck Thomas Park, Veterans Memorial Park and Fresh Start Community Church, which is located across the street from Moore High.

The school hosts cross country meets on the grounds of First Moore Baptist Church, Givens said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and I hope that Westmoore and Southmoore take advantage of it,” he said. –19SM


  • Cross Country
MPS and MNTC leadership teams
Trail map
Runners massing after meet