8 Storylines To Follow During The 2024 Outdoor Season

8 Storylines To Follow During The 2024 Outdoor Season

In a heavily results-driven sport, we often overlook the storylines that are unfolding right in front of us. As I dove back into following Oklahoma High School track and field I had to refamiliarize myself with the sport, in doing that I decided to write this article to point out what stuck out to me.  

1. Ukawuba Vs Nubine rematch in the 100mh 

At last year's state championship, Inara Ukawuba of Edmond North narrowly beat Kayvon Nubine of Edmond Memorial to be crowned the 2023 6a 100mh champion.  Only .03 seconds separated the two top returning hurdlers at the state meet last year. The pair has already faced once in 2024 at the Oklahoma indoor state meet where this time it was Nubine who got the best of Ukawuba to come away victorious by .04 of a second. Although Nubine has the first victory of the 2024 campaign, one week after being defeated Ukawuba answers back with an 8.72 performance to regain the state lead in the 60mh hurdles. This gives her the state lead but only by .02 over her cross-town rival. Our first opportunity for a match-up at the full 100mh distance will be on Ukawuba's home track on March 7th at the Edmond North Husky Hustle Meet. Who do you have coming out on top this year?

2. 400m Record Chase

Last year Heston Thompson from Stillwater High School became the 6a 400m state champion in a blazing 47.13. This mark was just .16 off the meet record and 0.6 seconds off of the outright state record for the event held by Olympian Gil Roberts. This is one of the toughest records to beat held by the greatest long sprinter the state has ever seen. A half second is a lot to cover over 400m but isn't an inconceivable amount. Thompson is one of the top wide receivers in the state and is committed to Oklahoma State to play football with his brother Holden Thompson (top 200m returner in the state). Both turned down track scholarships to do so. What a phenomenal swan song to a track and field career than taking down one of the stiffest records in the state. However, in November Heston Thompson's football career was cut short when he was injured and required surgery. This is less than ideal when trying to build for such a record-breaking performance. According to Thompson's X account, his surgery was successful and the expected return would be in 3-4 months. This means Thompson is going to have from roughly late February/early March to prepare to beat the record. Could he still pull it off? I think with his talent level he has a shot to still get it but we'll just have to watch and see.

3. Edwards vs the field in the boys hurdles

Mustangs Aiden Edwards returns as the top hurdler in both the 110mh and the 300mh. In the 300mh his closest competitor is Westmoore's Nathan Aryeequaye. At last year's state meet Edwards beat Aryeequaye by just .07 to become the 6a 300mh champion after failing to make the final as a sophomore. We did not get to see this matchup during the indoors at either 60mh or the open 400m to get a gauge on current form but we did get Edwards once this indoor in the 60mh as he set a PB of 8.25 to be the joint state leader with Tulsa Unions Damion Marshall. Although he has one direct rival over 300mh Edwards will face a host of competitors in the 110mh as he looks to reclaim the crown he lost last outdoor season Xavier Simpkins of Westmoore. The host of challengers includes Aryeequaye who finished 6th last year, Sam Strauss of Edmond Memorial who finished .1 behind in 3rd, Dean Mccune of Jenks who finished 7th but is only .06 slower than Edwards off of personal best marks, and Damion Marshall who failed to advance to last years state final but shares joint state lead in the 60mh. Who do you have Edwards or the field?

4. Sub 9 3200m?

In Oklahoma history, there have only been 3 boys to break 9. Ben Barrett from Norman North in 2015, Gabe Simonsen of Mustang in 2021 and Keegan Thomas from Stillwater last year. Could the state add more to this list? It's certainly probable and there are 3 candidates I think have a shot. Brody Woodcock and Graham Mitchell both from Deer Creek as well as Zach Rutherford of Edmond North. Sub 9 is a tough proposition, especially on Oklahoma soil with wild spring winds playing a major factor in the chase. Here is the case for the 3 to break 9. All three ran faster than Simonsen or Thomas did over 5k cross country (although on different courses so take this fact with a grain of salt). All three men need around 20-second PBs to do so which isn't inconceivable after their cross-country campaigns this past fall. Rutherford has run 8:34 over 3000m which converted to 9:10-9:12 for 3200m and Woodcock bested Rutherford in their only head-to-head matchup this year in the mile. Now what about Mitchell? He beat both Woodcock and Rutherford at state last year and boasts a better 5k PB however he ended the XC season a bit banged up and has only posted a mile 4:33 so far in 2024 which doesn't exactly bode well for sub 9 over 3200m. Can Mitchell find the form he had in the fall? Does Woodcock or Rutherford snowball their indoor momentum into sub-9? 

5. Girls Shot Put record Chase

For 18 years the girls shot put record was held by Tia Moore of Midwest City. Tia was just a sophomore when she set this record in 2007 but it stood firm until the 2023 state meet when two athletes were able to finally surpass the mark. The two athletes who surpassed the mark were Tyley Dotson a Junior out of Ada High School who was crowned class 5a champion breaking the old state record by 3 inches and not to be outdone Deyanna Douglass of Midwest City who was crowned 6A champ pushed the record another 4.5 inches to set the outright record at 46 feet 9 inches. Equivalent to roughly 6.5 Shaquille O'Neals stacked end to end. Douglass graduated in 2023 but Dotson returned for a senior campaign with sights set on the record. She only needs to add the length of a popsicle stick to the end of her mark from 2023 to outright undisputed queen of Oklahoma high school shot putting. Can she make up 4.5 inches in a year? If yes, does the record stand as long as Douglass's one-year reign or Moore's 18-year reign.

6. Can Bella Nelson be dethroned?

Bella Nelson (Owasso) has the best range of any distance runner in the state boy or girl. She's the defending state champion at 800m with a 2:09 PB, the state-only girl with a sub-5 mile to her name and she won the individual title in cross country this fall. It will be no easy feat to beat her but here are some girls that I believe have a shot. First Morgan Kirkland from Edmond North has 2:13 and 5:01 and 17:30 5k XC PBs. Second Natalie Duggan of Edmond Santa Fe is more of a strength-based athlete as she has PBs of 5:05, 10:20 3k (11:00ish 3200m), and 17:35 5k XC. 3rd Gentry Turner from Bartlesville has already had a good 2024 running a 5:02 mile PB and 9:56 3k (10:32 for 3200m). Lastly, I want to mention Jenks Kate Barber who was the top distance freshman last year and has 2:14 and 5:02 PB. There is just so much excitement and depth of talent in the 6a girls distance ranks.

7. Graham Murphy over 7 feet?

In his freshman campaign Heritage Halls Graham Murphy posted 5 marks over 6'8 with a PB and state lead of 6'10. This 6'10 mark not only gave him the top Oklahoma mark but also crowned him as the #1 freshman high jumper in the nation. Is it unreasonable to think he can progress 2" over a year? I don't think it is. For comparison state record holder Yukons Vernon Turner Jumped 6'8 as a sophomore, 7'4.5 as a junior, and 7'6 as a senior for the state record. Although everyone's physical development and skill progression are different I don't see the notion of a 7-foot leap unfathomable for Murphy this year. I also don't think it is unreasonable to believe he has a shot at the outright state record by the time it's all said and done.

8. Top Teams in each class.


Boys: Union vs BA. Tulsa Union is your defending state champs. Historically they are always super deep in the sprints and relays. However, Broken Arrow was able to beat them at indoor state and return more relay legs than Tulsa Union. Stillwater third last year lost a lot of scoring ability with Keegan Thomas graduating and uncertainty of Heston Thompsons injury return Also, watch out for Edmond North as a dark horse candidate. The favorite *for now* is Broken Arrow.

Girls: Unlike the men who I believe have a 2-team battle women's race is wide open. The top returning teams are Edmond Memorial (defending champs), Jenks (runner-up), Edmond Santa Fe. Off of relay legs returning I like Jenks, if we talk about a well-rounded team I'd give the edge to Edmond Memorial. This division is anyone's best guess but that's what will make the two-day state meet a thrilling follow. Also, don't sleep on the 5a state champs Bishop Kelley moving into the division and possibly upsetting some perennial powers for a podium spot.


Boys: Coweta vs Lincoln Christian. Coweta is your defending state champs but look for Ada to dethrone them. Lincoln Christian has a sneaky deep team top to bottom and the strongest distance program in 5a currently. I could see them scoring heavily in distance and with good production in other events they could make a big impression in their first year of 5a.  Piedmont is now 6a which leaves distance points up for grabs and I could see a team like Lincoln Christian moving in to gobble a lot of those points up. 

Girls: A vacant throne. Bishop Kelley the defending champs has moved to 6a. The race to claim the title is on like it is April 22nd, 1889 (The OK Land Run start). Here is who I like: Ardmore, Lawton Eisenhower, and Lincoln Christian. Ardmore and Lawton Eisenhower were separated by just 2.5 points last season. They both return most of their state meet squad but watch out for XC champs Lincoln Christian to come in and mix it up and win similarly to Bishop Kelley through a strong distance squad. 


Boys: Cache vs Ada vs Heritage Hall. Lincoln Christian moved to 5a which leaves the Cache boys an opportunity to claim the throne. They scored over double the next closest team last year. They return a good amount of scorers which will make them hard to beat. However, 5a runner-ups Ada and 3a champs Heritage Hall will not make it easy for them to bring the title home in May. 

Girls: Pauls Valley Vs Cache Vs Poteau. Cache is the defending champs and it would be a disservice to not mention them as a contender but I like the fact that teams like Pauls Valley and Poteau. They went 1-2 in XC and returned a lot of scorers from last year's state meet. I'll give the edge to Poteau who I think is more well-rounded with sprints and distance than Pauls Valley who will rely heavily on distance star power.   


Boys:  Kingston Vs Rejoice Christian. Last year these 2 teams found themselves well ahead of their competitors but trailing behind now 4a Heritage Hall. Kingston returned some quality scoring and I think they bypass Rejoice as the #1 contender in the class. Rejoice who was second last season looks to be on a bit of a slide after graduating a great group of seniors but with Heritage Hall moving up a lot of points will be left up for grabs. 

Girls: Victory Christian Vs Idabel. Idabel was only 4th last year but lost no one from their state meet scorers. Defending champs Victory Christian returned a good chunk of scoring but lost a few key athletes from last season's title team. I could see Idabel pulling off the upset this season. 


Boys: Hooker Vs Laverne. Hooker is a juggernaut in the boy's 2a division. They swept the relays at 2a State last year en route to the title. They didn't lose much of their championship team from 2023 and I expect them to keep rolling. The only challenger I can foresee posing a threat is class-A runner-up Laverne.

Girls: Stroud Vs Hooker. Stroud is your defending 2a Girls state champs but I believe Hooker is your pre-season favorite. Stroud graduated a good chunk of their relay legs whereas Hooker retained most of theirs. I think these two are the clear 1-2 until further notice. 


Boys: Ringling Vs Everyone. Class A is a tricky division to predict because most of the athletes will play basketball in the winter and won't start practicing until March 1. Even in track season many of the guys will play baseball at the same time. Ringling is the defending champs and with Laverne up to 2a I don't see a clear challenger to them at this moment.

Girls: Seiling Vs Everyone. Again hard to predict class A but Seiling returns all of their relay legs from last season when they won the 4x4 and 4x8 and were second in the 4x2. Cyril was second last year but had a few graduates that will add some challenge to them improving upon last years performance.