An early statement was what the Durant High School Lions cross country team was looking for and that’s what it got in the first full meet of the season.


Durant’s veteran boys squad bested perennial powers Madill, Marietta and Plainview on the way to a second-place team finish in the rugged Marietta Invitational.


The only team to notch a lower score than the Lions was private school juggernaut Oklahoma Christian School, which won the meet. Byng was six points behind Durant in third with Madill fourth, Marietta fifth and Plainview sixth.


"Our boys have been focused on this for a while and came out on a mission," Durant cross country coach Amanda Reynolds said. "We’re really proud of them. It’s still early and we are fighting through some tweaks, but we’ve had nice weather and the kids are giving great effort. We are ready to run a 5K to see where we are at."


Sophomore Brycen Ward claimed seventh place individually in the loaded field as he completed the three-mile course in 17 minutes, 16 seconds.


But the consistent Ward wasn’t the only Durant High School runner who shined in the event with three others also medaling in the Top 20 finishers.


Dawson Reed wrapped up tenth with a mark of 17:33, Alfonso Barraza was 12th at 18:05 and Cordell Palmer checked in 18th at 18:11.


"For this early in the season, we are putting up some really good times," Reynolds commented. "Four placers with as many outstanding individual runners that are usually at that meet is quite an accomplishment for us. We just continue getting better and better and decreasing our times almost every time we go out on the course."


Just outside of medal placing were Jacob Robison, who was 24th in 19:18, as well as Cory Hicks at 26th with a time of 19:20 and Ky Carper checking in 27th at 19:27.


A host of other Durant runners cut their times as well in the prestigious event, including Jon Perkins, 36th (20:20); Carson Robinson, 40th (20:27); Kobe Hernandez, 43rd (20:35); Rowdy Waitman, 44th (20:38); Jack Burrage, 48th (21:02); Riley Waitman, 53rd (21:33); Andy Palmer, 58th (22:01); Gabe Powell, 61st (22:07); Juan Montes, 63rd (22:11); Kaleb Hoffman, 70th (23:28); Kellen Hernandez, 76th (24:11); and Josh Rivera, 97th (28:58).


The youth-laden Durant girls team continues to make strides as well while ending up fifth in the team standings of the premier event, finishing behind Plainview, Byng, Marietta and Madill.


It was sophomore Mallory Reed who ended up taking medal honors for the Lady Lions as she placed 14th individually in a time of 14 minutes, 15 seconds on the two-mile course. Ana Orozco (24th at 14:42) and Demi Hood (25th with a time of 14:55) ended just outside of the medalist finishes.


"Our girls are doing a good job continuing to gain experience and steadily improving," Reynolds added. "I feel confident that they will be peaking where we want them to be in another month."


Other Lady Lions competing were Mercedes Gray, 37th (15:43); Bradlin French, 39th (15:47); Kaitlyn Ribera, 40th (15:49); Sherlyn Jasso, 58th (17:03); Cora Gordon, 61st (17:16); Aubrie Solis, 62nd (17:18); Petra Gorges, 66th (17:37); Zoe Jones, 73rd (18:23); Emeri Morse, 77th (18:36); Brevyn Robinson, 87th (19:37); and K.J. Whitley, 88th (19:41).