A rather youthful contingent of 10 Pawhuska High School track-and-field athletes — seven girls and three boys — will travel to Moore this Friday and Saturday for the Oklahoma Class 3A High School Championships.
Three members of the Lady Huskies team — sophomores Haley Mouser and Sarah Phillippi, and freshman Darienne Frye — captured individual titles last Saturday in the 3A Regional meet held at Chisholm High School in Enid.
Mouser maintained her season-long domination of 3A girls’ high jumping with a first-place finish at the Regional, giving her eight wins in nine meets for the year. Her winning jump of 5 feet, 4 inches was below her season-topping 5-6, but still among the best of the weekend. Incredibly, seven girls qualified for the 3A state meet in high jump from the Chisholm Regional.
Continuing their emergence as state contenders in the hurdles, Phillippi (in the 300-meter event) and Frye (at the 100-meter distance) both claimed Regional gold medals.
Those winning efforts were only the beginning for the Pawhuska girls. In all, the seven Lady Huskie qualifiers will be competing in nine different events.
Phillippi was a four-event qualifier as she also is a member of three PHS relay teams that will contend in the state meet. Frye is a runner on two of those relay units (the 4x100 and 4x200) and Mouser competes with the 4x400 squad.
Pawhuska’s girls took first place in the Regional’s 4x200 relay event behind a blistering 1:49.99 — which surpassed the local team’s previous best time by more than two full seconds. Phillippi leads off the Lady Huskies in the 800-meter event and Frye runs the third leg. Filling out the relay are a pair of PHS track veterans, junior Kortney Barnhart(who runs leg two) and senior Whitney Cotton, the squad’s anchor.
Cotton, a four-year starter for the Lady Huskies, matched Phillippi as a four-event qualifier. In addition to being a member of the three relays squads, Cotton turned in what PHS track coach Mark Frye referred to as a "gutsy" performance that put her third in the 400-meter run.
"She stretched out from the shorter distances that she would normally run," said Frye. "It helped the team and got her to state in a different event."
After narrowly missing out on a 100-meter qualification, Barnhart gave the Lady Huskies strong performances in the shorter relay races. The junior was a late addition on the Lady Huskie 4x200 squad and Frye said she gave the unit the boost it needed to win its gold medal.
"I put her on it to give some of these young girls a little bit of a break," said the Pawhuska coach, who added that Barnhart was "very deserving" of her state-qualifying recognition. "She made me look good by running the way she did."
Phillippi, Barnhart, Cotton and Frye provide the running order for PHS’s 4x100 sprint relay, which placed second at Chisholm in a time of 52.18 seconds. A second-place finish also was turned in by the Pawhuska girls on the 4x400 relay, where Mouser joins with lead-running Phillippi, anchor Cotton and Heather Conner, a multi-talented ninth-grader.
Conner became another triple qualifier for the Lady Huskies by also exploding to a third-place finish in the long jump. She exceeded her previous season best leap by 5 1/2 inches with an effort of 15 feet, 7 1/2. According to Frye, Conner had only participated in the long jump at a couple of previous meets.
"But we knew that she could do it," the coach added.
On Sunday, Conner was named as a late qualifier to the state meet for her fourth-place effort in the 200-meter run. Late qualifiers are added to the state meet list for having the top times, distances, etc., from among all non-qualifiers at the four Regional meets.
Two other Pawhuskans named as late qualifiers were Darien Lookout, a senior pole vaulter for the Lady Huskies, and freshman newcomer Warren Graves of the PHS boys team. Graves, a transfer from Claremore who joined the team early this season, was named to compete at 100 meters — in which he had finished fourth just two-hundredths of a second behind the third-place qualifier.
A pair of Huskies automatically qualified for state by placing in field events. PHS senior Justin Barnes took third in shot put by recording a throw of 41 feet, eight inches. Sophomore pole vaulter Bradley Moreland earned his second straight state qualification by getting third on a 10-foot vault.
The Pawhuska girls finished in second place in the Regional’s overall team scoring. Lady Huskies combined to score 119 points, leaving them well behind Chisholm’s first-place girls squad (162 points) but with a 26-point advantage over the third-place total (93 points) by Perry.
"Chisholm had about a 16-girl squad and we only had nine," explained Frye. "Our kids all got near their PRs (personal records), so I’m definitely pleased with how we came out."