The Duncan Banner
Family tradition is often a term associated with holidays in most circles.
But for Marlow sisters Maci and Rylee Rich, the term takes on a whole new meaning, as they are teammates on the Lady Outlaws cross country team.
As far as tradition is concerned, these two are looking to help MHS retain the Class 3A girls cross country state championship this weekend in Shawnee.
“I’ve been very impressed with how Rylee has performed this season,” Maci said about her freshman sister. “She’s young and I figured she would be scared of the competition, but that hasn’t been the case. I did know that she would be good though.”
Rylee mentioned running cross country along with her sister was just a happenstance.
“Us running together was just something that happened when we were younger,” Rylee said. “Maci went out and ran a meet, and did really good so I decided to do the same thing. We both ended up being good so that’s how we both ended up running in cross country. It wasn’t something we ever talked about.”
During the course of the season, many of the Lady Outlaws have had to step up and help carry the team through tough times.
This was never more evident than the last two meets of the season before regionals, when Maci was unable to compete due to an injury.
Enter younger sister Rylee, who led the Lady Outlaws with a fifth place individual finish at the 76th Annual Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, before turning in a 6th place finish just five days later at Oklahoma Baptist University.
“When we do our workouts then Maci is always at the front of the pack,” Rylee said. “I felt like I had to be up there in front of everyone and help lead them like she would.”
Maci added she felt a sense of pride watching her sister lead by example.
“I was proud because we needed someone up there leading the girls,” she said. “Just because I’ve fallen off doesn’t mean they have to. She stepped up big for us.”
Head coach Mikey Eaves said he wasn’t surprised at the way Rylee stepped up and performed, simply because he expected her to be competitive.
“When I was watching her (Rylee) in junior high then she had a great attitude,” he said. “From the start I knew she was going to be good. Was I expecting her to run a 12:16 at the beginning of the year? No, but you never know about her because she is so competitive at cross country.”
Eaves also said he’s noticed how Maci has matured as a sister and teammate since Rylee joined the squad this season.
“Maci is a hard worker and handles herself great through pain as well,” he said. “Her teammates have a lot of respect for her because of that. The fact that Maci has stepped in as a sister and brought Rylee along says a lot about her. There’s been some great leadership and sister qualities that have been brought out this season.”
Now as the case is with any siblings on a team, there are pet peeves the other does that sometimes get on the others nerves. For the Rich sisters, it’s all in good natured fun.
“We have our moments of arguing,” Maci said. “But we’re enjoying getting to say we did this together. The other day at a meet she got a little close to me and I kinda elbowed her a little. She’s always running next to me, and it first it bothered me, but I’m used to it now cause she is a good runner.”
Rylee added Maci has a few sly tricks of her own.
“Sometimes when we’re running she will ask me to slow down,” she said. “Then before I know it she’ll start to go faster than me. Or she’ll push me,” Rylee said jokingly.
Last weekend at the regional meet in Lindsay, the sister act helped propel the Lady Outlaws to a runner-up finish. Rylee finished 6th with Maci in 14th, and while both were excited to qualify for state, they simply want to finish the journey with a title.
“Just to get to say myself and my sister helped the team win would be awesome,” Maci said. “It’s something I never thought we would get to do together, but it could happen if we all work hard enough. It would be a great way to end this with my team.”
“I used to never think about winning a state title with Maci,” Rylee said. “But in the last few years everyone has gotten stronger as a team. All of our family is looking forward to it and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun for us as well.”