STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Stillwater High School track coach Rusty Atkins describes Brandon Prather, he just needs one word — explosive.
Prather has dropped jaws ever since finishing sixth in the long jump last season as a freshman, despite having only a week and a half to work with the Pioneer track coaches.
But the key for Prather is harnessing that explosive power and using it at the right time — like in the state long jump meet.
“We saw what he could do last year,” Atkins said. “We were only able to work with him a week and a half before regionals then, so we knew that with a whole season to work with him that he was going to improve.”
And improve he did.
Armed with the help of Oklahoma State track athlete Ryan Gibson, Prather fought through shin splints and still set a career best with a jump of 23 feet, 5.5 inches to win the Class 6A long jump title.
“I really worked for it this year,” Prather said. “We had a new long jump coach come help us this year. … (Gibson) came out there and helped me with all my form and technique. Last year I didn’t really have technique, I just went out and jumped. This year, he taught me a lot of stuff. If I didn’t have him, I probably wouldn’t have won.”
Gibson may have played a huge part in Prather’s ability to soar where few high school athletes have soared before, but it wasn’t just the physical technique that helped Prather bring home the title. There was also a mental aspect — not just a desire to win, but a need to win — that Atkins noticed this season.
“The thing I’ve noticed that’s maybe different this year is his commitment to the sport,” Atkins said. “He had a lot more motivation this year. He understands what it takes to be successful and he made a commitment to get better.”