By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
TAHLEQUAH — When his day was done, Tahlequah High School’s Ara Poteete had completed 14 laps around his home track in cold, windy weather at the Class 6A-5A regional meet on Saturday.
But he was warmed by the fact that he won two events and shared in another for three gold medals.
Poteete won the 5A 3,200-meter run in 10 minutes and 20.88 seconds, the 1,600 in 4:37.58 and was the third leg on the winning 3,200 relay in 8:29.01.
“The wind was terrible in the relay and two mile,” he said. “It wasn’t as bad in the mile.”
Still, Poteete thought the two mile was his best event of the day.
“I always thought I was a miler, but it’s taken to this my last year to realize I’m a better two-miler. I have a little speed and a big gas tank to use in the two mile,” he said.
Poteete’s day powered the Tigers to 117 points and second place behind Tulsa Washington (154 points) in the 5A team scoring. Tahlequah’s girls, led by senior Jessica Hembree’s second place in the 1,600 (5:37.09) and 3,200 (11:57.09), and third place in the 3,200 relay (10:19.69), are in second with 112 points and trails Tulsa Washington (169).
The meet was not completed as rain postponed the pole vault, discus and shot put in both classes until 4 p.m. Monday. The remaining 5A events will be at Tahlequah and the rest of the 6A schedule will be at Owasso.
The top three finishers in each event qualify for the May 10-11 state meet in Yukon. The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association later determines the other qualifiers from the fourth through seventh place finishers in all four regional meets for 16 state qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Muskogee’s Lashai Nunley and her Lady Rougher teammates were especially strong in the relays with a second place in the 400 (50.37) and third places in the 800 (1:48.33) and 1,600 (4:20.14). Individually, Nunley won the 200 (25.49) and teammate Xandrea Maxwell was second (25.65)
Nunley, also a senior, was especially happy with her team’s showing in the 400 relay.
“Everybody did what they were supposed to do,” she said about the foursome that also includes MyAngel Thomas and Zomaree McNac. “We had good handoffs. It was a real close race and we finished well.”
The Lady Roughers finished behind Tulsa Union, which had a time of 50.34.
MHS coach Angie Hillmon is looking forward to warmer conditions at state.
“Hopefully, it’ll be a lot warmer as we run well in the heat,” she said. “I just want to hurry up and have next week get here.”
Both of Muskogee’s teams finished fourth with the girls getting 59 points and the boys tallying 31. Jenks’ girls (189) and boys (208) lead in the 6A team standings.
Muskogee’s Tyreke Beasley finished fourth in the 100 (11.56) while the boys 800 relay placed fourth (1:34.92)
Other automatic state qualifiers from the Tahlequah girls include Gracie Medellin in the girls 1,600 (5:44.06) and Amy Hembree (12:20.45) in the 3,200, along with the Lady Tigers’ 400, 800 and 1,600 relays with times of 52.34, 1:48.34 and 4:13.31, respectively, and long jumper Alli George (15-3). Tahlequah boys also going to state include Aaron Eversole in the 800 (1:59.76) and Mohammed Bassime in the 3,200 (10:28.87) along with the 400 relay (45.27), 800 relay (1:34.32) and 1,600 relay (3:30.92).
Wagoner’s girls finished third (52.54) in the 400 relay. A.J. Freeth was second (16.43) in the 110 hurdles, while Desean Clark (41.46) and Decarius Clark (41.50) finished second and third, respectively, in the 300 hurdles. The boys ' 400 relay and 1,600 relay teams finished third with times of 45.45 and 3:36.41, respectively.