Local track squads on fast pace as high school meet nears

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Local track squads on fast pace as high school meet nears

When the high school track-and-field season formally launches next Tuesday at the Pawhuska Invitational, local runners and jumpers will already be ahead last year’s pace, according to head track coach Mark Frye.

Frye said results from early competitions show that Huskie and Lady Huskie athletes are headed for improvement over 2014, when PHS sent seven girls and three boys to Class 3A state meet.

PHS junior Haley Mouser lived up to her billing as the state’s best prep high jumper at Saturday’s Tiger Classic at Stroud. Against girls from schools in Class 4A and below, Mouser captured a first-place medal with a top jump of 5 feet, six inches — which is equal to the top height needed to win any of Oklahoma’s prep championship meets since 2007.

“That pretty much matches her p.r. (personal record),” said Frye, adding that Mouser actually cleared a metric height over 5-7 at a national meet last summer.

As a freshman in 2013, Mouser placed second in 3A’s high jump competition. Despite having her worst outing of the season at last year’s state meet, she still brought home a third-place medal. Mouser also runs on one of the Lady Huskie relay teams that is making strides to return to this year’s state championships.

Recording third-place finishes at Stroud were the Pawhuska girls 4x200 relay squad (made up of Sarah Phillippi, Heather Conner, Danae Laird and Kyleigh Riebel.) and the 4x400 unit of Phillippi, Conner, Mouser and Riebel.

“Their time Saturday (4 minutes, 26 seconds) was actually faster than at last year’s Regional,” Frye said of the 4x400 quartet’s effort.

The Lady Huskie 4x400 relay team (Kailee Hambright, Aubrie Walker, Genie Herren and Reibel) ran to a fourth-place finish at Stroud and the 4x100 squad (Phillippi, Conner, Laird and sophomore Darienne Frye) placed fifth.

One of the local boys’ relay squads is also showing steady improvement. The Huskie 4x100 unit (comprised of speed-burners J.R. Young, Warren Graves, Mathew Taft and freshman Brian Jeffers) took third place Saturday and earned medals for the second meet in a row.

In addition to participating in the relays, freshman Riebel joined an already strong contingent of Lady Huskie hurdlers. She won the 300-meter hurdling competition in an impressive time of 48.9 seconds, while Phillippi — a third-place finisher at the 2014 state meet — got third.

Another PHS freshman, Walker, has also given a boost to the Lady Huskies. Walker was a standout with last fall’s rejuvenated Pawhuska cross-country program. In addition to her relay-team work, the dynamic ninth-grader placed third in both the 1600-meter run and 3200-meter event at Stroud. Walker also took sixth in the pole vault, with PHS sophomore Samantha Lookout finishing fifth.

Twenty-four schools competed at the Stroud meet. This weekend, Pawhuska’s varsity girls’ team will travel to a meet in Beggs on Thursday, and the Huskies will join them on Saturday for an even largers multi-school event at Vinita.

Seventeen schools competed in the Pawhuska Junior High Track Meet held March 24. Lady Huskie squads finished second in overall scoring for both the seventh- and eighth-grade team titles, Frye said.