There was nothing new for Midwestern State's front running juniors Thursday night at the Strohman Dental/MSU Stampede ran at the Memorial Athletic Complex.
The only difference was in the styles Ashley Flores and Janel Campbell used to arrive at the front of the pack leading the Mustangs to a perfect score in claiming the team championship.
"(MSU coach Koby Styles) wanted us to go out at a little bit of a conservative pace," Flores said. "Just to not worry about leading and on how we feel. The last mile and a half, we were ready to go show them what we got - all out racing."
The only problem was Campbell just couldn't hold back from the start.
"I know personally to keep it at a good pace that I don't like to go too slow," she admitted. "For me, that was my strategy and I knew (Ashley) would eventually get up there which is good because it helped push me even more."
Campbell went along with Western Texas College's Sharlene Nickle eventually pushing her lead to 30-plus meters in front of Flores and the rest of the pack, but knew she would soon have familiar company as the race entered the final mile and a half.
"Definitely felt Ashley would be there," Campbell said. "We work together in practice and I know she has a strong kick."
The competitive juices led to a surge as the teammates were soon working toward a common goal as the race devolved into a two-girl race to the finish.
"I knew I was going to keep her in sight and just work my way up to her," Flores said. "Once I caught up to her, it was all about working together, pushing each other. One's going to take up a little bit and we know each other and the other is going to follow right through. Just keep pushing each other all the way in. The last sprint to the finish was just 'let's go.'"
The two finished within a mere second with Flores taking top individual honors with a time of 14:16.45 followed by Campbell's clocking of 14:17.62.
"Ashley and Janel ran great," MSU coach Koby Styles said. "They train together all summer and it shows. They are strong. They are as fit as they have ever been."
Nickle would finish third individually but wouldn't count toward the final team score as Western Texas didn't field the required five runners for the team race.
What followed was a flood of Maroon and Gold as sophomore twins Michelle and Kim Krezonoski clocked times of 14:54.56 and 14:56.91 to finish fourth and fifth just ahead of freshman teammate Brittany Adams who finished out the perfect team score with a time of 14:58.66.
The deep Mustangs placed 10 more runners in the top 33 including junior Abigail Gonzalez (10th/15.24.05), freshman Alex Kohrs (14th/15:39.58), sophomore Cara Mack (17th/15:54.10), freshman Maira Salinas (16th/15:55.30), senior Nadia Majed (19th/15:57.91), freshman Tylo Farrar (21st/16:01.74), freshman Carrie Finson (26th/16:22.07), freshman Daniella Androes (31st/16:44.50) and senior Heather Owens (33rd/17:01.73).
"Being on a team and knowing you can depend on your teammates to be right there with you is a really great feeling," Flores said. "You don't have to worry about having to make up this much space because the girl on the back is not pulling her weight. You know your team is right there with you. We're pretty close together, we keep each other in sight and we're pushing each other. It's great to work together like that."
Styles is hoping that work ethic will pay off as the season grows older, but is definitely excited about what he is seeing.
"I was very pleased with the effort but we still got a long ways to go to be where we want to be and that's No. 1 in the entire nation at the end of the season," he said. "There's still a lot of room for improvement with this bunch and I'll be excited to see it we work towards conference, regionals and nationals."
East Central (Okla.) finished second with a team score of 43 followed by Southern Nazarene (87), Northwestern Oklahoma (122), Clarendon College (146) and Howard Payne (157).
The Mustangs take their next step at the East Central Tiger Chase on Saturday, Sep. 8 in Ada, Okla.
ECU HOLDS OFF CAMERON IN MEN'S RACE: East Central (Okla.) placed five runners in the top 10 to outdistance Cameron by 16 points for the team championship at the Strohman Dental/MSU Stampede Thursday night at the Memorial Athletic Complex.
ECU tallied 29 points paced by third-place finishing Cale Eidson who clocked a 17:23.73 in the 5.6K race.
Cameron finished second with 45 points followed by Western Texas College (75), Southern Nazarene (99), Clarendon College (122), Northwestern Oklahoma (164) and Howard Payne (212).
Unattached runner Armando Saldivar claimed the individual title with a time of 17:19.40.