CHOCTAW - The Mustang boys track team was not at full strength when they headed to the Choctaw Yellow Jacket Invitational March 30th. For a variety of reasons, several Broncos were unable to make the trip to the team's first track meet since returning from spring break.
But that didn't stop the Broncos from rolling through the competition at the 17 team Invitational and taking home the overall team championship.
"I wanted to see us take first in everything," Mustang's Damien Close said. "Simple as that. Wanted to see everybody take first. We've got a couple of people who don't have that mentality. We try to keep them at home. We want everyone we take to the meet to want to win first place in everything we do."
Mustang rang up 107 points. Carl Albert was the runner-up with 80 points, 27 points behind the Broncos.
Choctaw (74), Shawnee (67), Norman (67), Del City (66), Westmoore (61), Moore (40), Guthrie (24) and Enid (16) rounded out the top 10 on the boy's side.
For the girls, it was Norman High who took the team home the team championship. They posted 108 points to win it all.
The rest of the top 10 included Southmoore (94) Moore (91), Choctaw (78), Mustang (77), Westmoore (55), Enid (48), Del City (30), Stillwater (23) and Kingfisher (18).
The Mustang boys didn't have a ton of first place winners. But one of the events they did have the top time in was the 4x200 relay.
Their time of 1:28.71 was more than a second faster than runner-up Westmoore. That is the third-best time in class 6A this season behind only Midwest City (1:28.59) and Union (1:28.69).
But Close knows his squad can do better.
"We ran pretty good," Close said. "But at the beginning of the start, I wasn't even set and he shot the gun. I wasn't even ready to go. I still gave it to our second leg in first place. We maintained first place throughout the whole entire race. That is just raw talent, I guess. I don't know what to tell. That has never happened before. I have never not been ready to come out of the blocks."
Close later came back and took the 100-meter title with a time of 10.77. Choctaw's Curtis Neely was second at 11.05. Fellow Broncos Chris Billings and Dominik Venegas placed fourth and fifth in the field of 77 runners who competed in the event.
Coming into the meet, Close had the sixth fastest time in 6A. He is now tied for fourth.
Close was done there. He went on to win the 200-meter dash as well with a time of 22.05. Zjon'tavien Gibbs was second at 22.45. Billings was third with a 22.79.
"By the time state comes, I will be faster than I am now," Close said. "I am already ready for state. I still got time, so I am going to take advantage of it."
Other strong outings included
Mustang's Rachel Hamel continued her dominance of the 100-meter hurdles. She soared past the competition with a time of 15.19, which is the second-best time in 6A this season. The reigning state champion also has the top time with a 15.16.
Mustang's Emma Downing also landed in first in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:25.11. She held off Westmoore's Madalyn Harper by three seconds.
Norman's Sophia Maag won the 3,200-meter in impressive fashion. Her time of 11:41 was 13 seconds faster than runner-up Alexandria Hernandez of Enid.
Norman freshman Kelbie Washington earned the victory in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.63. She is showing she could be coming after Southmoore's Whitney Bridges, who was scheduled to run in the 100-meters, but didn't.
In the boys 110 hurdles, it was Shawnee's Kylan Hernandez to was able to hold off teammate Darrius Blackshire with a time of 14.66.
Carl Albert's Camden Shaw won both the boys 1600 and 3200 runs while Moore's Patrick Larsen took the shot put and discus.
Norman's Chandler Branum won the girl's pole vault with a height of 10-6. Second place was Stillwater's Sydney Weiser at 7-6.