Photos by Michael Kinney (@EyeAmTruth)
By Michael Kinney
YUKON, Okla- On the West wall of Yukon Miller Stadium there is a slogan written. It states "Take State" in big pink letters. Right next to it, in smaller black letters, is the phrase "because no one came here to give it to you."
For any runner coming up the backstretch of the Yukon Miller track, those words are staring them right in the face.
That was the case for Tahlequah's Josh Dick on the Day 1 of the 5A-6A State Track and Field Championships. The senior had to fend some stiff competition the final hundred meters to win the 3200-meter run 5A state title Friday at Yukon.
"It's been years of racing for just 10 minutes of racing," Dick said. "It sounds ignorant, but it's who were are, it's what we do. I didn't want to come here and get second. I'm not here to get second. It sounds boastful, but it's true. I am going to go for gold, or I'm going to get last. I'm going to die trying at least."
Dick ran a 10:18.82 to win his first ever individual state championship. But it didn't come without the most dramatic finish of the day.
For almost seven laps, the 16 distance runners stayed pretty tight in a cluster. But on the final 400 meters, Dick began to make his move. He was followed closely by Piedmont's Blake Cope and Dereje Himbago of Guymon.
With 200 meters remaining, Dick tried to break away from the pack and create some distance. However, he made his move to soon and Cope and Himbago caught up with him with about 60 meters left.
From that point on it was a pure gut check. Running into 40 mph wind, each of the three runners looked on the verge of collapsing as they tried to sprint toward the finish line.
With just a few meters left, Dick was able to stumble ahead and dove across the finish just a step ahead of Cope. Both runners fell to the ground, but from his back, Dick raised his hand with his index finger pointing to the sky.
"The last 30 meters, you just hang on for dear life," Dick said. "Those are moments you always dream about. It's something I've been working for all four years. Since I've been in elementary school, I've dreamed about it when I came here and watched. I told myself I'd be here one day. It's special."
Cope finished the race in 10:18.98. Himbago was right on their tail but was disqualified for interference.
Dick's victory was just one of the many impressive performances on the first day of the state meet.
It included Mustang's Damien Close breaking the state record in the 100-meter dash after running a 10.30 in the 6A preliminaries. With the high winds, it will not be officially seen as a new state record, but Close has other business on his mind.
"It feels great, but I have to remain humble," Close said. "We still got the finals (Saturday). I will be in lane four. I just have to stay in front of KJ (Kevin Jackson of Midwest City) and Jesse (Porter of Putnam City West) and I will be a state champion."
Close also advanced to the finals in the 200-meter dash and the 4x100 relay. He and his Broncos also claimed a third-place finish in the 4x200 relay, despite little experience in running it.
Union won the title after posting a 1:26.04 in the timed heats.
Experience was not a problem for Moore's Patrick Larrison. He earned his third consecutive boys 6A state title in the discus and broke the state meet record in the process. His throw of 210-09 was just enough to edge out the old mark of 210-00, which was set in 2009 by Norman Tabor.
Larrison threw 41 feet farther than second place Mike Edwards of Muskogee. Larrison will be going for another state title in the shotput Saturday,
Another record breaker from the Moore area was Westmoore's Anthony Riley. The junior defended his boys 6A state title in the long jump by setting a new meet record with a leap of 25-01. Riley set the old record last year at 24-05.
Union's CJ Moore was second at 23-06 while Edmond North's Elijah Fisher took third at 23-05.
Heading into Day 2 of the meet, the team titles in 5A and 6A are up for grabs. Edmond Memorial leads the 6A boys while Carl Albert is on top in 5A.
For the girls, Grove is blowing away the competition in 5A while Memorial leads Southmoore by 18 in 6A.
There will also be several individual races that could have the fans on their feet. Besides the boys 100-meter dash in 5A and 6A, the 6A girls 200-meter final will feature Bixby's Brandee Presley and Southmoore's Whitney Bridges. The two have battled back and forth the last two years. This will be the final time they meet in their prep careers.
However, it will be hard for anyone to top the day Grove's Megan Tramel had. The senior won the girls 5A pole vault after getting over 11-06. 00. Second place was Lawton MacArthur's Alexis Chao at 10-06.
Tramel won her fourth consecutive state title in the pole vault.
"It means a lot," Tramel said. "It's very exciting to have this opportunity and to have made it this far. It's been a long journey and I'm very pleased where I ended up."
Cutline: Anthony Riley of Westmoore