By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — McAlester’s recent varsity track teams have often lacked the numbers to really compete at the state level.
One possible solution to this problem: get kids interested in track at a younger age.
Athletes from Parker Intermediate Center won 35 out of 50 total events, dominating the fifth- and sixth-grade track meet held Tuesday at Hook Eales Stadium in McAlester.
Carney said McAlester used to have informal youth track meets, but this was the first multi-school youth meet.
“I just did this to try to get these young kids motivated so we can get more interest at the varsity level,” Buffs coach Richard Carney said. Carney also said that schools as Plainview frequently hold youth track meets, and that’s translated to larger teams and more success at the high school level.
McAlester domiated the medal stands even though individual wins didn’t count towards a team score, as they would in a varsity meet. The meet drew so much interest at Parker that four separate McAlester teams were entered into the meet: McAlester Black, McAlester Blue, McAlester Gold and McAlester Red.
Though not all results sheets differentiated between the McAlester teams, fifth-grade team McAlester Red earned 35 medals. McAlester Blue, the other fifth-grade team, earned 22.
Among the sixth-grade teams, McAlester Black earned 21 total medals and McAlester Gold earned 14.
Boys and girls competed in separate divisions, with each group broken up by grade to create four groups. Each group competed in as many as 13 events: 100 meter hurdles, 400 meter relay, 800 meter relay, 1600 meter relay, 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 400 meter dash, 600 meter run, 1200 meter run, shot put, discus, high jump and long jump.
In two cases — fifth-grade girls’ 1200 meter run and sixth-grade boys’ high jump — not enough kids signed up to run the event. As many as the top five in each event received medals.
McAlester had by far the most athletes competing Tuesday, sweeping the podium in 17 different events. McAlester’s fifth-grade girls and sixth-grade boys especially dominated, sweeping in six and seven events, respectively.
Two other schools also brought teams: Wilburton and Tulsa-Edison. Wilburton won eight events, sweeping the fifth-grade boys’ high jump.
Wilburton also finished 1-2-4 in the fifth-grade boys’ 600 meter, 1-2-5 in the fifth-grade boys’ 1200 meter and 2-3-4 in the girls’ sixth-grade discus.
Edison won seven total events despite bringing only 11 athletes. The Eagles took the top three spots in the sixth-grade boys’ high jump, the sixth-grade girls’ 600 meter and the sixth-grade girls’ 1200 meter.
Edison also finished 1-2-4 in the sixth-grade boys’ 1200 meter.
“They’re just aren’t very many sixth-grade meets,” Edison coach Larry Cagle said. “I hope McAlester will stick with it. In fact, next year I hope we put one on and McAlester will come up. Track and field needs the community, the schools, to invest in it, if these kids are going to ever be competitive.”
Cagle is also the head varsity cross country coach and an assistant varsity track coach.
With Hook Eales Stadium under construction all of last year, this was the first track meet held in McAlester since 2012. Members of McAlester’s varsity track team and both track and non-track coaches helped run the events, taking down times and submitting results sheets.
“There were a lot of kids out here who definitely got better today,” Buffs senior Kyler Thompson said. Thompson is a high jumper for the Buffs helped ran that event Tuesday.
With the Buffs set to host a varsity meet April 17, a junior high meet April 21 and the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools state meet April 26, Carney said the fifth-sixth meet helped smooth out any kinks in the process.
Carney also said he hopes to make the fifth-sixth grade meet track meet a yearly event in McAlester.
“I think the kids like it,” Carney said. “That’s one thing they do like to do: they like to run and jump.”
McAlester won 135 total medals. Wilburton won 41; Edison won 25.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.