By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Muskogee girls coach Angie Hillmon has crafted the track-equivalent of a slow-cooking prime rib — still with a bit of tweaking before putting to the ultimate test at the Class 6A regionals in a few weeks.
On a night that the smell of barbecue served to participating teams permeates the air around Indian Bowl for the Rougher Invitational meet, her crew of sprinters may offer a sizzling sound. Field events begin at 4 p.m. and timed running events (no qualifying heats) begin at 4:30 p.m.
Lillian Thompson at 12.61 seconds has the sixth-best posted time in the 100 meters. Xandrea Maxwell ranks second in the 200 (25.49). Both turned those in last week at Bartlesville, where the 400 relay of Thompson, Zomaree McNac, LaShay Nunley and Maxwell posted a 50.35, the sixth best time this year in 6A according to ohstrack.com.
That beat a 50.50 where Thomas replaced Thompson on the first leg earlier in the season.
“We’re definitely deep in sprinters and we’ve moved people around giving everybody the opportunity to show what they can do,” Hillmon said.
Maxwell and Nunley have been doing that for four seasons. Thompson is a junior. McNac is a freshman. Myangel Thomas is a sophmore as is Lanice Rozell, an alternate on the 800 and 1,600 relays.
“Thompson is coming off quad muscle injury and is just getting to be 100 percent. When she runs well and Nunley runs well, we do well,” Hillmon said. “Nunley has had few problems with her knee. But we’re lucky to be very interchangeable. I’d prefer to go with the experience factor just because they’ve been there in the heat of the battle but if we have to we’ve got replacement parts and they compete well together.”
This year, Hillmon is beginning to see some distance kids arrive that will be capable of scoring points — Diana Velasquez, Luz Garcia, Alissa Anderson and Jayden Williams. Aaliyah Wilson is a freshmen long jumper.
“We’ve struggled to get distance kids out and I think part of it is that they’ve always been overshadowed by our sprinters,” Hillmon said. “They’ve done well.”
For Muskogee’s boys, the beef may be more prime out of the tent that will feed the participants. MHS coach David Heath’s team is young.
“I’m looking down the road a little with this bunch,” Heath said. “My 4 X100 has three freshmen and my 1,600 has two freshmen and two sophomores.”
Three of those freshmen — Tariq Beasley, Matthew Maxwell and Quintahj Cherry ran a 44.0 at Bartlesville a week ago for their best time. “If we can get in the 43 range, they’ve got a chance at qualifying for state this year,” Heath said. “But with freshmen in that situation, you’re more concerned about experience and not blowing handoffs or dropping the baton. If that goes well, they could surprise some people this year.”
Dexter McGriff, a Navy football signee, is coming off a first-place finish in the discus at Bartlesville. His best in the discus is 144-1 and is sixth in the state.
The cast of schools include the usual 6A suspects — Broken Arrow, Union, Jenks, Owasso, Bartlesville — as well as 5A toughie Tahleuqah and East Central. But the real David in the arena of Goliaths is 2A Warner, which will bring its 800-, 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams, most of which were on the entries that qualified for state a year ago.
Baylie Short and Allie Davis are joined by freshmen Jessica Kauffman and Becky Kauffman in the 3,200 relay that ran an 11:19 at Henryetta.
“That’s not on the posted rankings (Ohstrack.com) but from what I’ve come across it would be second-fastest in the region we’ll be in, so there’s a lot of times that aren’t being reported,” Warner coach Justin Kana said.
Short and Davis also run on the 800 relay with Morgan Barton and Caitlin Goodson, with a season-best of 1:58, and are joined by Barton and Becky Kauffman in the 1,600 with a 4:34. Another Lady Eagle, Raven Girty, a state qualifier in the shot put last year, will also be present.