Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

April 14, 2014

Holt Report: Atkins a 'ninja' in SHS track program

STILLWATER, Okla. — Around Stillwater High’s track program, Pioneer and Lady Pioneer coach Rusty Atkins is known as a ninja.

He may appear anytime to make sure a workout is under way. He may pop-up unexpectedly to make sure effort is involved in the workout.

“The kids call me a ninja — they never know when I will show up to make sure they are doing the right thing,” Atkins said. “For the most part, they are doing well.”

Atkins has seen some impressive performances this season from several Pioneer and Lady Pioneer athletes. Some performances rank with the best in the state.

“The boys’ 400-meter relay team of Ty Smith, Jordan Brown, Cameron Mayberry and Brandon Prather are considered to be in the top six in the state as of Monday,” said Atkins. “Over the weekend, they ran a 42.60. That same group is also one of the top 10 teams for the 800-meter relay.

“Brandon is in the top three in the long jump with a season best of 22 feet, 11 inches. Ty is one of the top sprinters in Class 6A in the 200-meters and 100-meters and Zach Porterfield is one of the top milers with a season best of 4:29.”

The Lady Pioneers also have had their moments, led by senior Becca Worthy.

“Becca Worthy is one of the top pole vaulters in Class 6A,” said Atkins. “She has either won or placed second at each meet. She has a season best of 10 feet, six inches.

“Elise Rackley is running well in the 3,200-meters. She consistently places in the top eight at each meet.”

Stillwater’s track teams return to action Friday at the Tulsa Washington meet.

“Progress for both teams is good. We are beginning to drop times and the field events athletes are improving and scoring points,” the likeable SHS coach added. “Progress is somewhat slow — the weather has something to do with that.”

Atkins, an SHS graduate, is no stranger to the program. He competed in track as a Pioneer and has been an assistant and head coach.

“This is my third season as head coach,” he said. “I was an assistant for four years and head track coach for eight years previously. As an assistant, I coached the throwers and as head coach I work with the 400-meter kids and have become a jack-of-all-trades.

“I pay attention to all events. The key is finding good people and letting them do their jobs. My job is to help the athletes achieve their goals. When the kids do well I’m usually one of the last to come up to them.

“When we make eye contact I grin or smile at them and that is my way of saying ‘good job.’ The kids know that and often look for it.”

Ron Holt is a columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Holt was a sports editor for the News Press for nearly 30 years and still resides in Stillwater.

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