Ardmore track and field teams set to host Class 5A Regional

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Ardmore track and field seniors pose for a photo. The Tigers and Lady Tigers look to clinch a spot at state on Friday, May 7 when they welcome nine teams to town for a Class 5A Regional.

There are few things that compare to sleeping in your own bed and competing in the friendly confines of home, especially during the postseason.

The Ardmore High School track and field will be the first to tell you that, as the Tigers and Lady Tigers are fortunate to host a Class 5A Regional at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May 7 at Noble Stadium.

“It’s a little nerve-racking — there’s a lot more people here watching them, but I think being here and practicing on our own track every day and being able to run regionals and state on our own track is going to be a benefit to us,” said Lady Tigers coach Brenda McHatton. “I’ve explained to them that not everybody gets to jump on our long jump, use our pole vault, throw in our rings or run on our track every day, but we do.”

That advantage will also carry over to the Class 5A State Championship, which Ardmore hosts on Saturday, May 15. However, in order to make it there, athletes need to qualify Friday at regionals.

Lady Tigers senior Reagan Geurin believes she’s in a good spot to do so after setting a new personal record in the discus at 130 feet, 3 inches during the Ardmore Invitational.

“It was a very good time of the year to (set a new personal record) because it’s not too early in the season and it’s not too late in the season,” Geurin said. “It’s good timing because it gives me time to improve and time for me to figure out what I need to do to get that mark. I don’t want to PR too much at regionals. I want to get PR at state, so I’m hoping for a big PR at state and a PR at regionals.”

Meanwhile, Maliyah Johnson hopes the home-field turf pays off during the 4x800-meter relay. The senior also competes in the 800 and 1,600, but the relay stands out.

“We get a better advantage because our track is painted different,” Johnson said. “A lot of people’s track isn’t like that, so our relay teams get a better advantage. And we get a more comfortable feel on our track because we practice on it every day.”

Shakira Smith agrees, and said she’s “super excited.” However, as is the case for any athlete, there are some nerves, too.

“It adds a whole bunch of pressure, especially at home with all of my family members here,” Smith said. “But it only makes me want to go harder, too.”

Only time will tell how the Lady Tigers fare during regionals, but they believe the sky is the limit.

“Our team is pretty excited,” Geurin said. “I think we’re all pretty excited to have the home turf and home advantage because we all know this track and the (throwing) rings like the back of our hand. Anything that has to do with this, we pretty much know very well. We’re all pretty excited that a lot more family gets to come watch and I think we’re going to do very well.”

CLASS 5A BOYS REGIONAL

At this point in the season, the athletes who succeed usually turn to previous experiences to propel them to great heights.

You don't have to tell that to the Tigers though, as they have that on their mind before competing at Class 5A Regionals.

“These young men have been excellent to coach, they’re a joy to coach,” said Tigers coach Bryce Bell. “They’ve been working hard. They’ve been performing at a high level. I just tell them, ‘All we have to do is just keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing — no more, no less.’ Just keep giving what we got.”

That is a helpful mentality, but there will still be some nerves. Especially since no matter what happens Friday, Ardmore is the location for the Class 5A State Championship.

“There’s a lot more pressure actually,” said Tigers senior Asher Bellavigna. “We’re hosting state either way. And if you don’t make it, you still have to be here. It’s a little harder to watch considering that. There’s definitely some pressure, but I’m confident we’ll make it and do well.”

Donald May shares that same confidence, as the senior believes home-field advantage is a big deal.

“It’s really nice,” May said. “The energy you get from the home field — the crowd, your family — it just gives you more intense vibe and a boost when competing.”

Ke’Ronn Johnson also knows that, as he and May are part of the 4x100 relay and need to thrive off of each other to excel in the event.

But even with that said, it doesn’t change the fact that Ardmore's athletes will be in the spotlight.

“Since (regionals and state are) here, I feel more pressure because I’m representing my city,” Johnson said.