Ardmore boys track coach Corey Russell emphasized to his team one goal.
That’s the time he wants from his 4x200-relay team at the Class 5A state track meet today and Saturday at Yukon.
“Most of the teams on the east side (of the state), that’s where they are,” Russell said. “You’ve got a couple teams over here that’s running 1:30. Lawton MacArthur over there is running 1:30, so we’ve got to be under 1:33 to be in the hunt for a medal and to get some points.”
The Tigers ran a 1.33:58 at the regional meet last weekend in Putnam City to qualify.
Ardmore ran its fastest time of the season at the regional meet.
“That’s great for us, but we’ve got to be even better on Friday,” Russell said.
Keeton Conway, Tyriq Cohee, Dyontra Dixon and JaMarcus Mills worked to improve their baton hand-offs at practice on Tuesday.
The Tigers earned second place in the 4x100-meter relay at the regional meet, finishing in 0:43.26 seconds — 0.53 seconds behind Lawton Mac. Roberts opens the event, Conway mans the second leg, O.J. Walker sprints the third leg and Mills is the anchor.
“We’ve been running 45s all year, then we came back with a 0:43.26,” Russell said. “We knocked 2.75 seconds off it. We added Conway on the second leg, and we were in the hunt. Lawton Mac had their horses on three and four, two of the fastest kids in the state with Gary McKnight, Jr., and Korie Robinson.
“If we just keep improving, we’ll be able to get a place and we’ll get a medal.”
The Tigers’ boys track team features four seniors. Daylen Baker and Brenden Hemmeway will compete in the state meet, throwing the discus.
Hemmeway placed eighth at regional, with a 42-foot shot put throw. He placed fifth in the discus toss, with a throw of 139-foot-11 in the finals.
Baker matched his best performance shot put throw at regionals. His 52-foot toss equaled his showing during the Tigers’ meet in Moore on April 4. He set a season-best in the finals, a 53-foot-4.50 throw that earned him second place.
Baker placed fourth in the discus with a 142-foot-02 throw in the finals to qualify.
D’Vron Roberts and Mills are the team’s other two seniors.
Conway is the team’s lone junior.
“We’ve got two freshmen running on our 4x200 relay team going to state for the first time,” Russell said. “They don’t know who they’re competing against. They think they’ve got to compete against everybody that’s there. I said, ‘No, all we’ve got to do is 5A.’
“It’s all brand new to two of our kids. It’ll be a big stage for them.”
Russell said that a packed crowd at a premier facility in the state will be a big wake-up call.
“The amount of freshmen we have out here competing, I think, is great,” Russell said. ”They get to stay in a hotel and things like that, so I’m just grateful that they get the experience.”
On the north side of Noble Stadium, Ardmore has the years of its state titles painted on the wall of its locker room.
“It brings us a sense of pride to have that on the side of the building,” Russell said. “Three-quarters of our team is made up of sophomores and freshmen. It gives them something to shoot for and know there’s pride when you talk about Ardmore track around the state, there’s a lot of pride, especially with the speed that we’ve been accustomed to.
“When you go a track meet, people always talk about, ‘You guys always have some talent in Ardmore’.” That brings a lot of pride to our kids.”
Russell said his kids don’t have a lot of experience at the high school level. They know many of their competitors due to summer track.
“You’ve got a lot of older guys on the track,” Russell said. “We’ve got a scrappy little bunch. They don’t fear very much. They just want to get out there and get after it. They’re really excited about it.”