PHS track qualifies 24 for state meet

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
PHS track qualifies 24 for state meet

Two dozen Pawhuska High School athletes will be headed to the state track and field meet this weekend after qualifying at Saturday’s Class 2A Regional at Stroud.

The Huskies won five events and compiled 125 points in claiming the Regional team championship by a 51-point margin. Warren Graves and Brian Jeffers raced to titles at 100 and 200 meters, respectively, in leading the 10 state qualifiers of the squad.

Pawhuska got a sweep in the high jump at Stroud. William Merrell finished first for the Huskies and Haley Mouser, the indomitable Lady Huskie senior, completed a perfect Regional career by taking her fourth straight crown.

As the 2015 Class 3A champion, Mouser will top a group of 14 local girls who qualified for state. The Lady Huskies won two other Regional titles with their 4x100 and 4x200 relay units, while the 4x200 and 4x400 relays qualified with second-place finishes. PHS was runner-up in the 19-team girls’ standings with 142 1/2 points, compared to Cordell’s 195.

This year’s 2A state meet is set for Friday and Saturday at Carl Albert High School, a Midwest City-area venue that will be new to the Pawhuska squads. In three of the last four seasons, the Huskies and Lady Huskies have competed in 3A state meets held 15 miles further to the southwest, at Moore.

“I really don’t know much about the Carl Albert track, but I’m hoping it will be fast — for everybody’s sake,” said Mark Frye, the Pawhuska track coach.

Graves, a junior, dashed to victory in the 100 with a time of 11.19 seconds, while sophomore Jeffers blazed the 200-meter distance in 23.06. Merrell cleared 6 feet, 4 inches to win the high jump by two inches. He joined Jeffers, Graves and fellow-junior Tyler Wilson to form PHS’s first-place 4x400 relay. Merrell also qualified in the 800-meter run, finishing second.

The Huskies’ other Regional triumph came from the 4x100 unit — comprised of Graves, Jeffers, Wilson and James (J.R.) Young. Young, a senior, added third-place qualifications in both long jump and high jump.

Other state qualifiers for the PHS boys include junior Tristen Tucker, who was third in the 3200-meter run, and a trio of pole vaulters — Bradley Moreland, Daneal Parks and Nathan Richardson. Moreland, a senior, placed second at the Regional, while juniors Parks and Richardson finished third and fourth, respectively. Richardson managed to qualify despite sustaining a badly-sprained ankle that kept him from competing in the hurdle events.

“Nathan rolled the ankle on his first vault, but gutted it out to clear 11 feet on his final attempt,” said Frye.

The Huskies’ fourth-place finishing 4x200 relay squad also earned advancement to the state meet, putting junior Ben Gray on the list of qualifiers and adding one more race for Wilson, Jeffers and Graves. Narrowly missing out on a qualification was PHS senior Matthew Taft, who placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles.

Two local seniors who were coming out of the recently-concluded baseball season attempted to qualify in throwing events. Hayden Henley competed in shot and Breanna Redeagle — who played in several varsity games as an outfielder for the Huskies — finished sixth in discus for the Lady Huskies.

Senior stalwarts Sarah Phillippi, Keylee Kirk, Genie Herren and Mouser were among the multiple state qualifiers of the Lady Huskies. Phillippi and Kirk both ran legs of the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relays, and Phillippi — in addition to placing second in the 300-meter hurdles — was also on the second-place 4x400 relay. Kirk qualified third in discus, while another senior, Ericka Barker, also earned a qualification. Herren helped the 4x800 relay finish second and also qualfied in pole vault. Mouser, another member of 4x400 squad, also qualified f0urth in the 400. Senior Danae Laird runs on the 4x100 and also qualified in long jump.

Juniors Darienne Frye and Star Sweeden also ran on both Regional-winning relays, while sophomore Kyleigh Riebel was on the 4x200, as well as the second-place 4x400 and 4x800 squads. Riebel was a second-place qualifier in the 400-meter run. Frye also qualified third in the 100 hurdles and Sweeden qualified fourth in the 200-meter dash. Junior Heather Conner was a late qualifier in long jump and is an alternate runner on the relay squads.

Sophomore Aubrie Taylor ran on the runner-up 4x800 relay squad and also advanced to state following a fifth-place finish in the 3200-meter run. Madelyn Priest, a junior, was the other member of the 4x800 squad. Freshman Kianna Taylor helped qualify the 4x400 relay. With a personal-best effort, sophomore Ashley Henley qualified third in the shot.

The composition of the Lady Huskie relay squads has been subject to change throughout the season, due to different injury situations, according to Frye, who said the revolving of personnel is likely to continue.

“We’re still mixing and matching,” the PHS coach said. “Even as late as Wednesday, there’s a chance we won’t know for sure who’ll be running where.”