Top talent converge at Yukon Classic for state preview

Photos by Michael Kinney

By Michael Kinney

The Yukon Classic Track and Field Meet has become a very popular event. Since Yukon's Miller Stadium has become the site of the 6A/5A state track and field championships, seemingly every coach wants to get their team some time on the track before the postseason arrives.

Because of that, the Classic assembles not only the largest field outside of the state meet, but also the most talented. With both 5A and 6A teams all battling for the same titles, it's a free for all.

This year was no different as 27 teams from around the state converged in Yukon April 13. But it was mother nature show stole show as high winds and wildfires caused havoc throughout the day. 

"The elements are always tough in Oklahoma," Norman coach Scott Monnard said. "This is even challenging for Oklahoma. For the sprinters, for the 100, for the hurdles, for the 200, it's not really a factor. They get the wind. But the distance races, the 400, the 300 hurdles, you just have to remain."

Despite that, Midwest City and Edmond Memorial came in and rolled to team titles.

On the boy's side, it was the Bombers who took home the team championship with 82 points. Choctaw was the runner-up with 61 points.

Edmond North (60), Carl Albert (51), Norman High (46), Norman North (44), Shawnee (40), Union (38) and Westmoore (28) rounded out the top 10.

For the girls, it was the Huskies who tallied 109 points. That was just 18 more than runner-up Southmoore.

The rest of the top 10 included Edmond North (51), Union (39), Weatherford (38), Midwest City (35), Broken Arrow (34), Del City (28), Norman (26) and Mustang (20).

"The conditions aren't prime for doing well today or whatever," Mustang coach Eric Peterson said. "But overall, I thought the girls competed hard and did well. This whole teacher walkout deal's kind of throwing a wrinkle and trying to get everyone consistently to practice so we're doing the best we can and making due and hopefully we can just keep making some strides as we work towards the end of the season."

Some of the top performances came from the least experienced athletes.

Westmoore freshman Kendra Gillespie took the top spot in the shot put with a throw of 41-feet. She held off fellow freshman Maddison Collier of Hennessey, who took second.

In the 800-run, it was Heritage Hall freshman Daphne Matthews who ran a 2:17.63 to win the event. And freshman India Morgan of Putnam City West who claimed the long jump with a leap of 18-04. Weatherford freshman Kennadi Price won the 3200.

Upperclassmen also had success. Deer Creek senior Elysia Burgos took the 1600 meter run with a time of 5:12.84. Mustang senior Rachel Hamel took the 300-hurdles while Union's Tizhane Brooks claimed the 400-meter dash.

Southmoore's Whitney Bridges ate up the competition in the 100-mete dash and helped the SaberCats secure the 4x400 meter relay title with a blistering final leg.

The relays on the boy's side made for some tight competition as well. While the Bombers won the 4x100 with a time of 41,97, it was Choctaw who wrapped up both the 4x200 and 4x400.

Choctaw was able to capture the 4x400 even as smoke from wildfires more than two hours from Yukon filled the stadium.

Norman High had the best time in the 4x800 as they ran an 8:11.67. Carl Albert was five seconds behind them.

Midwest City Howard Douglass ran a 10.38 to win the 100 and Putnam City West's Jesse Porter grabbed the 200-meter dash with a 21.31.

The field in the 200-meter was so deep, that nine runners ran under 22 seconds.

Westmoore's Anthony Riley said his hamstring wasn't feeling right so he only took one jump in the finals of the long jump. That was all the defending champion needed to a still the event at 23-feet.

Many of the athletes who competed at the Classic will be back at Miller Stadium May 11-12 for the 6A/5A state meet. Until then, most coaches want their teams to have learned from the experience.

 "This meet, you get a lot of east side schools. It's always one of the bigger meets in the states and challenging," Monnard said. "We kind of use this as a springboard before the next three weeks. You got maybe next week, then take a week off, you've got conference week. I think more than anything, it gives a lot of kid's confidence and makes them refocus for the next three weeks."