Area athletes shine in state track
YUKON Gena Rogers had little time to rest.
The senior from Eisenhower proved just how durable and flexible she is, ending her high school career on a high note with four medals, three of which came on Saturday at the OSSAA Track and Field State Championships at Yukon High School.
Rogers won the long jump, claimed second place in the 100-meter hurdles and took fourth place as a member of the 4x100-meter relay, breaking personal bests in all three. All of this after medaling in the 4x200 on Friday with a fourth-place finish.
Rogers' first medal of the day came in the 4x100, as her and teammates Destinee Rush, Juliette Harvey and Jamaya Morgan sprinted to a time of 50.60 seconds, the team's fastest of the season.
However, Rogers' second medal also served as her first state championship.
She posted a jump of 17 feet, 11 inches, shattering her previous personal best by 8 inches.
Rogers finished 1.5 inches ahead of runner-up Paige Hughes of Woodward.
"It feels good to be the best 5A long jumper in the state," Rogers said. "I really didn't think I could do it, but coach (Brittany) Cooksey, my jumping coach, told me what I had to do, and I went out and did it. She told me to stay warm and make sure I keep my hip flexors stretched, and I did it.
"I knew I jumped good whenever I hit the board, and the whole crowd went, 'OOO!' And I was like, yep, that's the one."
Not long after that, Rogers was back on the track again for the 100 hurdles, a race featuring key aspects from her previous two events.
That worked to her advantage, for she sprinted and jumped her way to second place with a personal best time of 15.18 seconds.
Duncan's Savannah Reynolds won the state title in 14.79 seconds.
"Me and the girl who won, Savannah Reynolds, have been going back-and-forth since sophomore year," Rogers said. "At the beginning of the year, I was struggling with my trail leg, and I was worried about it it wasn't doing what it was supposed to be doing. Then I started working and doing drills, and it got better."
Despite her success, Rogers didn't always view herself as a state championship contender. Track was just another extracurricular activity to fill the void basketball left after the season ended in March.
It didn't take her long to realize her talents were special, though.
"My freshman year and sophomore year, I really didn't realize how good I was," Rogers said. "I would procrastinate at practice, and at the meets, I was just there to be there. At the end of my sophomore year and the beginning of my junior year, I was finally like, 'Woah, I'm really good, so I should take this seriously. I'm glad I did."
Chew redeems herself
Redemption was the only thing on Destiny Chew's mind as she entered the shot put thrower's circle.
Only a day earlier, the Lawton High senior competed in the long jump but unfortunately failed to land a clean jump. Fueled by her untimely letdowns, Chew redeemed herself in the shot put, tossing the 12-pound ball 37-10.50 to claim second prize in the Class 6A competition.
"It was redemption," Chew said. "I didn't even get a mark in long jump, so I had to get out here today in shot put and show them what I really do. Long jump is not really my thing, but I take pride in shot put. I didn't come to state for no reason, so I wanted to show everyone why I came to state."
Chew entered the meet as the No. 5 seed, based on regional meet performances. She finished sixth in the event last year with a toss of 36-05.
Chew said even she didn't know what she was capable of coming into the event.
"You want to do it, and when you do it, there's that satisfaction of, 'I've done it,'" Chew said. "Now I have something to show off. I have a medal, and I got on the podium, so I feel great."
Chew attributed her success to the learning environment throwing coach Adam Castro created for her.
"Coach Castro really came out here with the mentality of letting me have fun but still keeping me under control to do what I have to get done," Chew said. "He's a really good motivator, and my friends and my family came up to watch me. Just having that support was really good."
Nickell earns 2nd-place finish in 1,600
Daniel Nickell wasn't happy with his performance in the 3,200-meter (2-mile) run on Friday.
Despite running a personal record time of 9 minutes, 53 seconds at the regional meet a week prior, Nickell had perhaps his worst race of the season, placing fifth in 10:27. The Mac junior made up for it in the 1,600-meter (1-mile) run on Saturday, though, striding his way to second place in 4:26.
Camden Shaw of Carl Albert ended Nickell's bid for a two-peat in the event, clocking in at 4:24 to win the race. Nickell won the 1-mile last season with a time of 4:29.