The Edmond Sun
For the Deer Creek boys, it was a romp in the park. For the Lady Antlers, things were a little more tense, but in the end both Deer Creek track teams ended up with State Champion trophies at the OSSAA Track and Field Championships at Yukon High School Saturday.
For the Deer Creek ladies, the championship was not decided until the final race. Defending champion Shawnee picked up eight points in the 1600 meter run to up their total to 76 going into the concluding 1600 meter relay. Deer Creek had 85.5 points and could hold off the Lady Wolves and clinch the team title with a third-place finish. Kirsten Burnett had already racked up gold medals in both the 100 and 200 meters and another with the Lady Antlers' 400 meter relay when she took the baton in fourth place for the anchor leg of the deciding relay.
"I knew I had to finish third if we were going to win, but I just put it out of my mind and decided to run as hard as I could," said an exhausted but jubilant Burnett as she was mugged by her teammates. She joined Lillie Martin, Jade Orange and Alexis Allen on the awards stand in second place which added 16 points to the team and gave the Lady Antlers 101.5. The Lady Wolves actually won the relay, but the 20 points left them with only 96 for the runner-up trophy.
There was no such drama for the boys as they almost clinched a repeat championship with 52 points on Friday's abbreviated program. The Antlers, paced by four gold medals from Otugo Ananaba, first place in three of the four relays and three golds from Bryce Balenseifen who won the 1600, 3200 and was on the winning 3200 meter relay team, along with Devin Turner, Kyle Larson and Kyle Sander.
The Antlers finished with 175 points while runner-up Duncan was a distant 71 as the Antlers claimed their second straight team title.
David Riden coaches both boys and girls track squads. He credits hard work for the success of both squads.
"Even though it was a little easier for the boys, We got a lot of contributions from a lot of different guys. They have been positive and dedicated and put in the extra work to make a champion.
"The girls had to work a little harder, but they knew what they had to do and they did it. That comes from practice and more hard work. It's another page in the successful sports history at Deer Creek High School," he said.
Deer Creek can officially lay claim to the Sprint Capital of Oklahoma as Burnett and Ananaba each won both the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Burnett won the 100 in 12.15 and was joined on the victory stand by Orange, who won the silver in 12.28. Burnett concluded the sprint double with a victorious 24.79 while Orange picked up fourth in 25.74.
Ananaba had the fastest qualifying time in the 100 at 10.70 but then unleashed a sizzling 10.52 for gold in the 100. Football star Joel Blumenthal picked up two points with a 10.98 fifth-place finish. Ananaba actually qualified second in the 200 to Tyler Jackson of Claremore but easily outdistanced the Zebra sprinter, 21.31 to 21.58 in the finals. Blumenthal finished fourth with a 22.72.
Martin ran a 59.39 for fourth place in the 400 while Kale Jackson and Landon Huslig finished 1-2 in the 100 hurdles for the Antlers for an 18-point burst. Then, they racked up 16 more in the 300 hurdles as Huslig took first and Jackson finished third.
Balenseifen posted a 4:27.82 for an easy win in the 1600 and teammate Drake DiAngelo added a point with a sixth place. In the 3200, Balenseifen was even more impressive with a 9:59.76 gold-medal run and Blaine Powell added four points with a fourth-place finish.
In the 400 meters, the Deer Creek ladies qualified second behind Tulsa Washington in the preliminaries but roared back behind another monster anchor leg by Burnett for a 42.34 time for the quartet of Burnett, Martin, Orange and Jessie Heiden to claim the gold.
That was followed quickly by the Antlers' 42.30 time in that event and a gold medal for Blumenthal, Zonley, Jared Rayburn and Ananaba.
Both 800 meter relay squads finished third to earn 12 valuable team points. While the girls placed second in the concluding 1600 meter relay, the DC foursome of Huslig, Rayburn, Kale Jackson and Ananaba had a dominating victory by more than three seconds ahead of runner-up Lawton MacArthur.
Balenseifen and friends dominated the 3200 meter relay for Deer Creek.
In the pole vault, the Antlers got a gold from Cole Verble with a height of 14-6 and teammate Jake Woodson tied for second, also with 14-6.
Abigail Stanley cleared 10-6 for second in the girls pole vault. In the long jump, Alexis Allen sailed 16-10 to claim the silver medal.