McAlester’s track team has its third coach in three years.
Kevin Wright coached McAlester’s girls cross country squad in the fall, and is now at the helm of the track team this spring after Brent Parker left for Ponca City. Parker coached McAlester to a top 10 finish as a team at the Class 5A state track meet in 2018.
This season also poses the question if Terrell Gates can be a state champion. The senior second place in the 400-meter dash in last year’s state meet, but Wright thinks he could potentially win state in four events, also praising his talent in the high jump and long jump.
Wright believes said the biggest hump McAlester must get over this season is youth, as many are underclassmen. He said it will take some time to develop them into the athletes needed to be competitive in the regional and state rounds.
There are some youth who have stood out to Wright. He was impressed by sophomore Grant Owens at the indoor track meets. Wright said Owens has not reached his potential yet, and could possibly qualify for state in the 200-meter dash.
He will once again be coaching freshman Taylor Kelley this season after she finished 16th at the Class 5A state cross country meet in the fall. Wright said there are some freshman boys who look promising, though still have a ways to go.
Speaking of indoor track meets, McAlester broke 10 indoor track records this season, but Wright also thinks it’s because of a lack of participation of indoor track meets. He was asking runners who weren’t in basketball or wrestling to come out to extra events and get more experience.
“Hopefully that will carry over into outdoor season,” he said.
Wright said he is impressed with the 4x800 relay team going into the season, with some cross country runners in senior Cody Norriss, juniors Gabe Birchfield and Matthew Hyden, plus sophomore Patrick Detels.
“They’ll do anything I ask them to,” he said. “As far as excellent kids and work ethic, those are the four guys that anybody would want on a team, and if they can keep progressing, I think they have a chance to possibly score some points for us at regionals.”
Wright believes in the importance in scoring in of the all events of track and field. He sees the importance in throwing and in pole vault as well, but has had a difficult time recruiting in the latter event.