By Chuck Reherman
EDMOND – For Yukon’s young track team, the class 6A State Track Championships were a learning experience.
The Millers after qualifying 13 individuals to the state meet, placed in only two events and finished 17th overall.
“This year has been a challenging year for all of us for obvious reasons,” Miller head coach Matt Parent said. “However, last year, when we didn’t get to have a season, we had a varsity team full of seniors. This year we had a team dominated by sophomores, and the last time these sophomores ran any meaningful track, they were eighth graders. Most staffs would have hit the panic button from day one. Fortunately, ours didn’t. We knew there would be issues this year, but most of these young men have so much talent. By the end of the season, they started to shine.
“They finally had a full season of conditioning and learning under their belt, and it showed at the regional meet by qualifying 13 to the state meet,” he said. “Getting our youngsters to the state meet is part of the process. This will allow our returners to pull from experience next year, and it will set expectations higher. Our coaches are really excited to see what the future holds for this extremely young team.”
The Millers placed sixth in the 4×200 relay. The team of Ezra Johnson, Caden Hernandez, Christian Eldridge and Chaz Bradley finished sixth in 1:29.14.
The 4×100 team of Hernandez, Makari Slaughter, Eldridge and Johnson finished seventh in 43.02 seconds.
“We started the meet off in a little bit of a panic mode,” Parent said. The 4×800 team, consisting of Max Marler, Eli George, Kayden Chapparo, and Austin Miller had to be reworked. Max just couldn’t go. He had been dealing with a knee issue for about three weeks, and when he started to warm up, he said it felt like someone was stabbing him in the knee. This meant that junior, Jonah Hanscom, had to step in. They ran well, gained experience, and will definitely be back in a big way next year.
“All five guys that have run on the 4×800 this year are underclassmen,” he said. “They are all dedicated to lifting and running this summer and really excelling in cross country next season, building their base up with their sites set on the school record in the 4×800 in the coming years.
“The 4×100 team did an amazing job at state,” Parent said. “Coach (Kevin) Ritter and (Justin) Raper worked on extending some handoffs and getting the guys more comfortable at where they were lined up, and it really showed. We ran our fastest time of the year in the prelims and barely made it into the finals. We were seeded as being just out of the mix, but things fell into place. Once we got into the finals, we weren’t done. We were able to hit all of our hand-offs, just right which led to another big PR, moving us up to a final scoring position of 7th. With this group, we thought early in the season we might be able to score at the state meet, but there was just so much speed this year. There hasn’t been a year like this in the state of Oklahoma, but we just kept working, and working, and working until it happened. This group did a job this year.
“The 4×200 team might be the biggest surprise of the year,” he said. “We didn’t even seriously contest the 4×200 in our early meets. We wanted the guys to get in better shape so we (and they) could see what our potential was. It really wasn’t until the regional meet that we thought we had a chance. Again, coach Ritter and Raper made some adjustments that really helped the team achieve and we not only scored, but we made the podium, coming within a second of our school record. I was so happy for our lone senior, Caden. He worked his butt off to get into this position. He had major knee surgery in November, started running in February, and was on the podium in May. I think he drug everyone on the 4×200 to the podium with him. He willed it to happen. We like to call him Coach Hernandez for a reason. It couldn’t have ended for him any better.”