NORMAN — With the state track meet just a day away, a number of Norman athletes found out this week that they will get a chance to compete there, despite not automatically qualifying.
The top three finishers from each of the state’s four regionals automatically qualified for the meet, and the remaining four competitors are determined from the next four times throughout the state. That opened up an additional path to qualify, and it’s one that paid off well for the Tigers and Timberwolves who competed at the tough regional hosted last week in Norman.
Norman North’s Jordan Evans finished just one 100th of a second behind teammate Corbin Cleveland in the 100-meter dash to miss the automatic bid, but his time of 11.27 still was good enough to qualify him for Friday’s meet at Yukon.
Other boys who qualified include Norman High’s Tommy Uglean in the 800, NHS’ Robert Baines and North’s Ben Barrett in the 1600 as well as Baines in the 3200, North’s Ishmeal Riley in the long jump, NHS’ Jake Miller and Cal Schone in the discus and Jake Gray in the shotput, as well as North’s 3200 relay team.
One near-miss on the boys’ side was the Tigers’ Andrew Meiller, whose time of 2:01.17 in the 800 was good enough to automatically qualify him in some regionals but not the loaded field at Harve Collins Field last week.
For the girls, NHS’ Bethany Cox made it into the 800 while her teammate Camille Henry qualified for the 3200. The Tigers’ 400 and 1600 relay teams also advanced to state.
Both schools also had success getting more athletes into the field events. North’s Mackenzie Warren and NHS’ Julie Hanks and Abigale Hooper all qualified for the pole vault, while the Timberwolves also put two more competitors into the long jump with Tia Williams and Daisha Reece.
Pitching coach key to T-Wolves success: When the Timberwolves head to Shawnee today for the state tournament, they’ll be doing so with one of the top pitching staffs in the tournament. North’s staff has a team ERA of just 2.60 and sports more depth than most teams.
Coach Brian Aylor credits much of that to assistant coach Brad Dolejsi, who in his fourth year with the program has worked with the staff to develop their skills. He works in tandem with the pitcher and the catcher to call pitches during games, and those pitchers almost always give Dolejsi part of the credit for their wins.
“The hitting can come and go and the defense can let you down, but the one part of our game that’s always been constant is the pitching, and so much of that credit goes to him and what’s done with this staff,” Aylor said of Dolejsi. “He’s been a huge part of our success.”
Pair of T-Wolves named to All-City team: Norman North seniors Daniel Herron and DJ Gasso were both named to the All-City team this week and will play in the All-City game at 6 p.m. next Thursday at Dolese Park.
The pair, along with Luke Jones, also have been nominated for All-State honors, which will be announced in two weeks.
Threat of rain could dampen state events: With a number of state championship events scheduled this week, including the state track meet and the state baseball tournament, weather could again be a factor.
Weather issues have wreaked havoc with baseball games this season and forced a delay in the regional tournament last week, while cold, wet and rainy days have become the norm at track meets recently.
There is a moderate chance of rain in Shawnee today, which could force changes to the schedule, including North’s 11 a.m. game against Bishop Kelley. There is also a lesser chance of rain on Friday and Saturday at the state track meet in Yukon.
Mills commits to Missouri Baptist: Markus Mills has committed to play volleyball at Missouri Baptist University next year. The Norman North senior has excelled at the sport, despite there not being a boys’ program at North, and will continue his career at the NAIA school based in St. Louis.
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