PHS sending 14 to state

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
PHS sending 14 to state

Zac Stone was a track-and-field star even before last Saturday’s Oklahoma Class 3A Regional meet at Chisholm, where he won three gold medals and a silver and became the first Pawhuska High School male athlete to be a four-event state qualifier. Because of how he did it, his status may be upgraded from star — to superman.

The PHS senior is among 14 Huskie and Lady Huskie athletes headed to the Oklahoma 3A Track and Field Championships, which will begin Friday at Ardmore High School. All of them earned spots at the state meet through qualifying performances at Chisholm, one of the four 3A regionals that were held around the state (and mostly the west side of it).

Paced by the solid showings of its runners the Pawhuska girls earned fourth-place honors in the regional team standings. The Lady Huskies accumulated 61 overall points, while the Pawhuska’s boys squad compiled 54 total points to place sixth.

In addition to the three golds taken by Stone, the Huskies got a first-place finish in pole vault from PHS’s Mr. Reliable, Timmy Wann. The individual achievements by Stone were taken to another level due to the fourth event he added for the regional, as most regular-season meets restrict contestants to three.

Competing for the first time ever in the 300-meter hurdles, Stone ran to a first-place finish in a time of 42.16 seconds — which was faster than the best time all season by any of his opponents. And, while most of his foes had been hurdling for years, Stone first tried the event last week, just three days before the meet.

Coach Mark Frye of PHS said that he was not surprised by Stone’s winning performance. In fact, he is the one who suggested the hurdles to the Huskie star.

“I knew he could do it, but I wasn’t sure if he would want to try,” PHS track coach Mark Frye said regarding Stone’s prodigious hurdling feat.

Already, Stone recognized as the top prep high jumper in the state, with his clearance at 6-feet, 8-inches being Oklahoma’s best this year in any class. He also rates near the top in the long jump and is 3A’s No. 3-ranked pole vaulter.

“He’s the No. 1 in the high jump, No. 2 in the long jump and should place in pole vault, so I warned him about the risks,” said Frye. “The 300 hurdles is a dangerous event.”

At the regional, Stone accepted the risk. After earning gold medals in his signature events, the high jump and long jump, he placed runner-up in pole vault behind PHS teammate Timmy Wann. Stone then completed the personal hat trick by winning the regional title in the 300 hurdles.

Actually, it was only midway through last season that Stone had began pole vaulting. He went on to qualify in the event at the 2012 state, where he finished 10th behind Wann, who took third, and PHS’s Matthew Moreland, who tied for fourth.

Wann will be looking for a better-than-bronze medal when he returns to Ardmore this year. He earned a gold medal at Chisholm by sailing over at 13 1/2 feet, making him a two-time regional champion.

Stone continued his near-perfect season in the high jump at the regional. He took first by going over the bar at 6-2 — best of the day by two inches. The unstoppable Pawhuskan picked up his other regional championship in the long jump, which he won by a seven-inch margin with a leap of 20 feet 5 1/4 inches.

Third-place in pole vault at Chisholm was Huskie sophomore Bradley Moreland, the younger brother of the now-graduated Matthew. The regional sweep marked the second time this year that the Pawhuska vaulters have finished 1-2-3.

Another PHS pole vaulter who is state-bound is Darian Lookout, a junior pole vaulter of the Lady Huskie squad. Lookout was named as an additional qualifier. Despite finishing seventh at the regional, she earned her way to state by having one of the top four jumps from among non-automatic qualifiers at the four different regional competitions.

Of the 11 Lady Huskies who are going to state, six qualified automatically by placing among the top three finishers in their event at the regional.

Haley Mouser continued her excellent freshman season by claiming a second-place finish in the high jump.

Another PHS freshman, Kailee Hambright, qualified by placing third in the 3200-meter run. Hambright also finished fourth at 1600 meters and was an added state qualifier.

An automatic qualification also was earned by the Lady Huskie 4x200 relay squad, which raced to a third-place regional finish. The 800-meter relay unit is made up of sophomore Andie Sweeden, freshmen Sarah Phillippi and Keylee Kirk, and junior Whitney Cotton.

Phillippi, who already was on the the state roster for the 800 relay, was an added qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles. Her fourth-place finish at the regional was only eight-tenths of a second behind third place.

Another late addition for the Lady Huskies was senior Hunter Sutherland, whose fifth-place regional finish earned a belated qualification.

A majority of Pawhuska’s additional qualifiers were relay team members.

Frye pointed out that there was some last-minute shuffling in composition of the relay teams, caused partly by an injury on the Tuesday night before the Saturday regional.

Freshman Karissa Hughes, a versatile runner in several events, sustained a severely sprained ankle in the final season loss by the Lady Huskie soccer team and her loss required coaches to quickly seek out her replacements for the relay races.

“Everybody really stepped up for us,” said Frye. “They had to work hard and learn quickly to make things possible.”

The Lady Huskie 3200 relay squad (Hambright, Cotton, Herren and sophomore Carlie Culver) and the 400 relay unit (Andie Sweeden, Keylee Kirk, Whitney Cotton, Kortney Barnhart) were both named additional qualifiers based on fourth-place regional finishes.

In placing fourth, the Lady Huskie 4x100 squad was hot on the heels of Lincoln Christian and Victory Christian. All finished behind the blazing 49.72 second time by the winners from Oklahoma City Millwood. Lincoln Christian of Tulsa cruised to victory over second-place Millwood in the 4x800, with Perry clipping PHS for fifth by just .44 of a second.

Pawhuska’s 4x400 relay (Sweeden, Phillippi, Kirk, Cotton) also was named a late qualifier despite a sixth-place finish at Chisholm, where the 1600-meter event was also captured by Millwood.

Sophomore Kortney Barnhart earned a medal, but no late qualification, for her fifth-place finished in the 100-meter dash. Freshman Danae Laird came in sixth in the 100, barely missing out on a medal but still earning a team point for the Lady Huskies.

“They did well to qualify for the finals,” Frye said. “We had quite a few girls who lowered their times by several seconds.”

Another PHS freshman, Genie Herren, was ninth in the 800-meter run.

Lookout, who earned the late qualification as a seventh-place finisher in pole vault, was not named as an additional qualifier in the long jump — despite finishing fourth at the regional. Kirk, a member of three of the four Lady Huskies relay units, also competed in long jump and finished sixth.

Also competing for the Pawhuska boys team were Justin Barnes, a sixth-place finisher in shot put, and Matt Taft, who took seventh in the 110-meter hurdles.