Stillwater News Press

High School Sports

May 2, 2014

Prather on Pace

STILLWATER, Okla. — When Brandon Prather decided to join the Stillwater High basketball team this winter — largely to join his friends on the team — he wasn’t thinking about himself.

So when the reigning Class 6A state long jump champion returned to the track at the conclusion of the hoops season, he had more work to do than usual in order to get back to a state caliber level.

“Last year I didn’t play basketball, I just prepared for track during that time and was getting better each month while other people were playing basketball,” Prather said at Thursday’s Stillwater High track meet at Pioneer Stadium. “So I played basketball this year and started off slow.”

He feels that he is finally back to where he was a year ago for the spring sport, and Thursday’s performance had plenty to do with it.

After eclipsing the 23-foot mark in the long jump last week for the first time this spring, Prather followed it up with a jump of 23 feet, 5 inches — the same mark that earned him the state title a year ago.

“The beginning of the year I didn’t start off so well, I was jumping in the low 21s and not hitting 22 until midseason,” Prather said at Thursday’s Stillwater High track meet at Pioneer Stadium. “Now I feel like my old self again. ... I’m excited. I really want to get to 24 (feet), that’s what I’ve been going for since the beginning of the year. I’m on pace for that, so I’m excited.”

According to the three-sport star, he had plenty of doubters early in the track season when he failed to even break 22 feet. But Prather said he just used that as motivation to finally breakthrough and be considered a threat again in Oklahoma track and field.

“Last week, when I finally got my first 23, I have a friend from Edmond Memorial who kept saying he was going to beat me because I couldn’t get past 22,” Prather said. “People just motivate me when they talk like that.”

His improvements in the long jump aren’t the only thing that had him beaming Thursday on the same field that he has been a star football player for the Pioneers.

The 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams — which he runs the achor leg for both — recorded their best times of the spring and continue to catch ground Booker T. Washington, which won both events Thursday as well as the team title.

The relay teams, which include Ty Smith, Jordan Brown and Cameron Mayberry, clocked times of 41.01 and 1:29.16, respectively. BTW, which will be at the same regional meet at SHS next week, registered times of 41.94 and 1:28.27, respectively.

“We went to their meet and it was important to see them there and then get this measuring mark two weeks later to see how we’ve improved, so that’s why we’re glad they decided to come back to our meet,” SHS track coach Rusty Atkins said. “We know that we’re right in each other’s back pocket. One half-step here or there, and it’s going to make a difference.”

Bolstered by the relays and field events — with Braden Henry getting third in both the shot put and discus and Sterling Watkins taking second in discus while fourth in the shot — the Pioneers finished second as a team. SHS also got first-place finishes from Zach Porterfield in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:39.41 — six seconds ahead of the competition — and claimed the top two spots in the 200-meter dash with Smith’s 22.10 seconds edging out Brown, who clocked a time of 22.22 seconds.

The Lady Pioneers took fourth in the home meet with the best finish being a gold medal for Becca Worthy in the pole vault by clearing 10-feet.

“If look at it going into regionals next week, Becca’s probably going to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the pole vault, which is a good thing for her,” Atkins said. “She just has to go in there and continue to compete and have another good week of practice.”

Also in the field events, Carley Walstad got a pair of third-place finishes in the shot put (32 feet, 7.75 inches) and discus (105 feet, 1 inch). The top performance on the track for the SHS girls came from sophomore Kailyn Palmer, who took second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 17.82.

Baker beats the competition

Glencoe’s Jenny Baker busted out a big toss in the discus throw Thursday at Pioneer Stadium, registering a mark of 125 feet, 8 inches. The throw by the competitor from Class A Glencoe bested the second-place mark by 17 feet.

Baker, who went up against athletes from Class 5A and 6A, also took second in the shot put. The Glencoe sophomore heaved a mark of 35 feet, 10.75 inches, which was less than 5 inches short of the first-place throw.

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