Huber Woods 250

By Chris Chandler

Whether her feet are traveling over the smooth, level lanes of a standard track, or the unpredictable grass, dirt, rocks and hills of a cross-country course, Landry Vaughn moves at a blistering pace. The Wright City runner is a rising star in both track and cross country for her small southeast Oklahoma school. She competes this year at the junior high level, but her times are “varsity gold” worthy. Wright City coach Johnny Crabtree predicts a great high school career for Vaughn.

“She always finishes near the top in all cross country meets and has led her team to consecutive runners-up at the junior high All Star cross county meet. In track, her best event is the 400 (meters), where in her career she has only lost once by a fraction of a second. As a 7th grader she consistently ran it in 1:03 or better. I feel she will lead us to a high school state championship in cross country before she graduates, and I know she will be a state champion in track in at least the 400 meters if not more events.”

To put the numbers in perspective, the all-time high school record in Oklahoma for the girls’ 400 meters regardless of class is 54.89 seconds, which has stood for almost 35 years. Vaughn’s times as a 7th-grader would place her in the finals for the Class 1A-2A 400 meters at the state track meet the last two years. If her goals sound lofty, the athlete she looks to for guidance is the all-time most decorated female Olympian in track-and-field. “I look up to Allyson Felix because she is a great role model and a tremendous athlete.”

While Landry admits her biggest challenge as an athlete is balancing school with practices and competition, she understands what it takes to be a champion. Acknowledging her hours of hard work, Crabtree describes Vaughn’s effort. “She is one of the sweetest and hardest-working ladies I have ever coached. She has a great work ethic. She’s a fierce competitor that hates to lose.”

Vaughn echoes her coach’s sentiment. “My favorite part of running is the thrill of competition and the thrill of seeing the results of hard work. Playing sports has changed me. It has strengthened my work ethic and made me a better team leader.”

When asked what advice she would give to a younger athlete who wanted to run cross country, Landry emphasizes the payoff in self-discipline and dedication. “It is a hard sport, but if you can handle the practices and competition it is definitely worth it. It will show you are mentally tough and have a strong work ethic.”

Vaughn’s favorite memory of her young career is winning both the 200 meters and 400 meters at the Kingston track meet last year, but she wants to be remembered as a hard worker with great moral character and a good team leader. In life, like in her races, Landry is off to a good start on her way to her goals.

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