By Mike Tupa


mtupa@examiner-enterprise.com


Three weeks before the outdoor track season raises dust Bartlesville High School head coach Bon Bennett is getting a dream sneak preview.


And, his top returning girls’ runner — senior Rilee Rigdon — is already running like a dream.


During Friday’s indoor meet hosted by the University of Oklahoma, Rigdon rocketed to first place in the girls’ mile run (5:15.77) — winning by a margin of nearly nine seconds.


“Honestly, she’s in a class by herself,” said Bennett.


Rigdon also ran on Bartlesville’s 4x880 relay team, which stormed to second in an event that include elite competition from Broken Arrow, Edmond North, Owasso, Tulsa Union, Edmond Memorial, and so on.


Rigdon ran the leadoff leg to open up for Bartlesville and handed the baton to Jillian Skalicky. Liza Williams and last-minute fill-in Sarah Covell filled the final two legs to round out a time of 10:19.42, just two seconds behind first-place Broken Arrow.


Covell proved to a real minuteman — so to speak.


Madi Taylor, who normally competes in the relay, fell ill and was unable to compete, which prompted Bennett to call Covell.


Covell, a well-honed hurdler, came to the rescue.


“I praise her for jumping in,” said Bennett.


Besides Rigdon’s championship in the girls’ mile, and the silver-medal performance of the girls’ 4x880 relay team, other Bartlesville thinclads that earned a medal in Norman included boys high jumper David Kelley (2nd place, 6-foot-4), thrower Cody Keesling (shot put, 4th, 47 feet), distance runner James Martinez (3rd place, boys mile) and Caleb Eiden (6th place, 880 run).


Keesling beat the other Class 6A competitors and could be primed for a breakout season.


Kelley — who didn’t begin high jump competition until last season — “is really starting to focus, take his time and concentrate,” Bennett said.


Eiden “has been showing the most promise,” said Bennett, adding the 880 was “really competitive.”


Martinez has turned in a big competitive year, including helping lead Bartlesville’s cross country team to the state championship and excelling in the Route 66 Marathon last fall.


Other Bartlesville athletes also distinguished themselves with promising performances.


In the pole vault, Zach Robertson cleared the bar at 12 feet, “which is another milestone,” said Bennett. “That’s a personal record for him. He has gotten faster and stronger, which is definitely showing up in his performance.”


Robertson recorded 10th place in an extremely strong field, Bennett added.


Elena Fries “ran a personal best in the mile,” and Nathan Lauritsen “ran really well in the mile,” added Bennett.


Alex Merrifield, the lone sprinter at the meet for the Bruins turned in a solid effort in the 60 dash and Tyler Linthacum “ran a competitive 440 yards,” said Bennett.


He also lauded the effort of the Bruins’ 4x880 relay team, which consisted of Linthacum, Spencer Hales, James Boudreaux and Eiden. The foursome came in ninth, with a time of 8:47.84.


Some of the returning Bartlesville track athletes didn’t compete at OU.


Bartlesville next takes aim on the outdoor opener, set at an out-of-town meet on March 2.


On March 9, Bartlesville is scheduled to hold its first full-fledged varsity home track meet in at least a decade.


Bartlesville results at OU indoor Track meet


Boys shot put: Cody Keesling, 47-0, 4th.


Boys high jump: David Kelley, 6-4, 2nd.


Boys pole vault: Zach Robertson, 12-0, 10th.


Girls 4x880 relay: Rilee Rigdon, Jillian Skalicky, Liza Williams, Sarah Covell, 10:19.42, 2nd.


Boys 4x880 relay: Tyler Linthacum, Spencer Hales, James Boudreaux, Caleb Eiden, 8:47.84, 9th.


Boys 60 dash: Alex Merrifield,:07.59, 33rd.


Girls mile run: Rilee Rigdon, 5:15.77, 1st; Liza Williams, 5:53.69, 15th; Elena Fries, 6:09.37, 31st.


Boys mile run: James Martinez, 4:34.38, 3rd; Spencer Hales, 4:50.45, 16th; Nathan Lauritsen, 4:54.61, 21st.


Girls 440 dash: Jillian Skalicky, 1:04.92, 16th.


Boys 440 dash: Tyler Linthacum, :54.21, 19th; Alex Merrifield, :55.88, 31st.


Boys 880 run: Caleb Eiden, 2:04.4, 6th; James Boudreaux, 2:18.01, 45th.