By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Call it a whim. A very successful whim.
Stillwater High track athlete Abbie Woods has been a dominate force on the track for the Lady Pioneers this spring, but just recently was given the chance to venture into field events.
The result? A first-place finish in Thursday’s Stillwater High Invitational at Pioneer Stadium in the long jump — in just her second competition in the event.
“This was only her second time to do it. We just thought on a whim that she might be explosive enough to do it, so we let her first do it at Ponca City where she jumped 17-plus,” said SHS track and field coach Rusty Atkins, who mentioned he’d also thought of having her compete in the high jump if she wasn’t so important in track events. “... She’s jumping well and she’s probably going to have a chance to do it at the regional (meet) and hopefully qualify for the state meet.”
Woods jumped 17 feet, 9 inches — nearly a foot longer than her competition — and even had a jump of over 18 feet not count due to just barely scratching on the leap.
“To take first in my second meet ever to jump and to win at home is amazing. Hopefully it will bode well for me heading into regionals and state,” Woods said.
Woods also led a sweep by the Lady Pioneers — which finished third in the team standings — in the 400-meter run. Woods won the event with a time of 1:01.09, followed by fellow Stillwater runners Chablee Sanders, second in a time of 1:02.55 and Kaitlyn Cotton, third at 1:04.90.
“It’s really awesome. We all train together, and push each other, so I’m really glad we were all able to stick together — and prove that we are one of the top three people in the 4x400 relay, so we’re going into that relay really strong,” said Woods, who anchored the 1,600-meter relay team which finished second.
Woods’ first-place finish in the long jump wasn’t the only gold medal earned by the Lady Pioneers from the northwest corner of the football stadium. Becca Worthy won yet another pole vault title when she matched her personal best by clearing 9 feet, 6 inches.
“I met my mark today, but because of some factors I wasn’t able to get a new personal best,” Worthy said. “But hopefully at regionals I can get my pole situation worked out and be able to contend.”
The day was a tricky one for Worthy. Not only did she have to handle some high winds — which plays possibly the biggest role in the pole vault event — but she also had to borrow a longer pole late in the event.
“That’s the problem, she’s progressing so fast and we’re trying to find poles that she can use,” Atkins said. “Right now she’s blowing through them and the ones that are correct for her, she’s already out-grown them in a matter of weeks. That just tells you how dedicated she’s been to the sport and how much she’s progressed, and we’re going to have to do some wheeling and dealing to get her one for regionals and probably state.”
For the Pioneers, sophomore Brandon Prather finished third with a jump of 21 feet, 11 inches on his first attempt. It was the first time Prather, who has been struggling with shin-splints the past month, did not win the event.
“I knew coming into here that I wasn’t going to be jumping my best because I’m battling shin-splints right now, but I didn’t think I’d finish this bad,” Prather said. “I’m just going to rest my shins a little bit now and get ready for regionals.”
While Prather was disappointed not to get a first-place medal at the home meet, there were several SHS boys that did come away with gold. Ty Smith won the 200-meter run in a time of 22.84 as the Pioneers finished second in the team standings.
Noah Gade, the Class 6A state cross country champion who will join the reigning national champion Oklahoma State cross country team, blew out his competition in the 3,200-meter event. Gade logged a time of 9:41.72 — finishing ahead of teammate Bo Frohock, who finished second, by nearly 50 seconds.
In the 3,200-meter relay, the Pioneers got a furious push at the end by anchor leg Sam Smith, who overcame a deficit to give SHS a victory with a time of 8:36.31. The boys 400-meter relay team just barely missed taking first themselves, settling for second at 42.591 — just behind the 42.53 set by the Enid team. The SHS boys 800-meter relay team also took second with a time of 1:30.75, while the Lady Pioneers’ 400-meter relay finished third in a time of 52.31.