Just as it was for the Gregg Byram Classic, also held at Norman High’s Harve Collins Field, the Norman North girls produced the biggest team finish at Saturday’s Classy 6A regional track meet among city squads.
The North girls placed fourth with 75 points behind regional champ Edmond Memorial (236), Westmoore (137) and Edmond North (77).
The NHS girls were seventh with 20 points, while on the boys side, Westmoore (174) and Memorial (172) finished in the top two slots, the NHS boys a distant seventh (30) and the North boys eighth (11).
Still, NHS track coach Scott Monnard likes what’s happening with his team, and one of the reasons why he’s bullish on the future is a quite familiar face, Tias McClarty, a sophomore, who played quarterback for NHS last fall and figures to again next fall.
“I’m a football player who runs track,” McClarty said Saturday.
He just doesn’t carry himself like one. He carries himself like he’s a track guy and, who knows, maybe eventually it might become his top sport.
What Monnard knows is a year ago, his boys team was poised to be the best squad on this side of the state, yet never had the chance to prove it, the coronavirus pandemic canceling spring sports very nearly in their entirety.
He also knows he’s sticking with the same blueprint that helped put the Tigers in that position, identifying leaders and building his team around them.
McClarty is one of his leaders.
“He’s right at the top,” Monnard said.
Saturday, McClarty played the part by setting a new personal best in the long jump, leaping 21-feet, 1 1/2-inches, good for a third-place finish and an automatic entry into next Saturday’s Class 6A state meet at Edmond Santa Fe. Additionally, McClarty also helped the Tigers 1600 relay squad, even without Luke Morrow, their fastest sprinter, get to the state meet, running the second 400 meters.
The Tiger quartet, which also includes Kerry Robinson, Harrison Benge and Noah Sherman, placed fourth, yet Monnard told The Transcript after the meet the group’s 3:27.10 time was indeed enough to be an additional qualifier to the state meet.
When McClarty talks about track, he sounds similar to the moments he’s talking about football.
“Whatever coach tells me to do, that’s what I’ll do,” he said.
As an eighth grader, Monnard said McClarty ran the fastest 400 in Alcott Middle School’s history. He could be a future state qualifier in that event, too, but Saturday Monnard needed him in the relays, the 800 as well as the 1600.
McClarty’s long jump event coach, Levonte Douglas, believes McClarty could improve his best jump by almost a foot at the state meet. It may just be a matter of his keeping his feet together on the landing, not letting one trail.
“He’s jumped 22 feet in practice,” Douglas said.
The future may be quite a bit brighter than that.
“One of these years, he’ll be a state champ,” Douglas said. “I think his range is pretty broad.”
Not bad for a sophomore who had his freshman season erased by the coronavirus.
McClarty’s not the only one the Tigers are building around. Robinson is another.
In addition to being part of the state qualifying 1600 relay unit, Robinson posted a second-place finish in the high jump, clearing 6-2.
The Gregg Byram Classic took place on April 17. In that one, Robinson finished sixth, clearing 5-10, having picked up the event earlier in the month.
His improvement has been rapid.
The Tigers are building.
It’s good to have big blocks.
• Regional notes: The only Norman athlete to capture a regional championship was North’s Lari Mgliorino, clearing 5-2 in the high jump … The North girls posted three second-place finishes: Kinley Kite in the 800 in 2:18.02; Jade Robinson in the 1600 in 5:29.70; and the T-Wolves 3200 relay team of Olivia Vanhootegem, Ella Camp, Robinson and Kite … The NHS girls picked up a second-place finish from Nyel Kennedy, who covered 16-7 in the long jump.