Less than a week after playing in the Class 6A state basketball semifinals, Caleb Huffman was looking to achieve new heights in a sport he had not competed in since eighth grade.
“We practiced this yesterday and I struggled with five-ten,” Huffman said as he and fellow Broken Arrow Tiger basketball seniors Josh Robinson and Mills Odoala (who has run track each year in high school) prepared to compete in the high jump in the Union High School Track and Field Invitational.
The “rediscovery” of the high jump turned out to be rewarding.
Huffman cleared 6-feet, 4-inches to win the boys high jump Thursday. Odoala tied for third. Robinson, who is jumping for the first time, placed fifth. Huffman, Odoala and Robinson also placed second, third and fifth, respectively, in the long jump.
“One thing that I’m excited about is the kids we have been able to get from football, basketball and wrestling that want to come out and help us as a team,” said Scott Wilkinson, in his first season as Broken Arrow’s head varsity track coach.
Amazed at what Huffman and Robinson were able to do with just one day of practice, Wilkinson said that by the end of the season both guys could be pushing 6’8.’’ Odoala also impressed his new coach by running a 15.07 in the 110 hurdles and finishing third with just one day of practice.
“It’s fun to watch them,” Wilkinson said. “They want to be competitive and be leaders in practice every day. These kids coming over from other sports…it generates excitement. It gets everyone excited about the possibilities.”
The now multisport athletes add depth to the boys’ squad. However, there are some track athletes who performed at expected levels at Union. Pole vaulters Ethan Bonham and Brandon Hanoch finished one-two. Blake McConkay used a 100-meter kick to run a 10:41.44, and run down Owasso’s Trevor Pendergraf, in winning the 3200 meter run.
“I knew I was going to beat him,” McConkay said after the race. “I knew he would start out fast. I just had to sit on his shoulder and be patient.”
Second place finishers for the boys were 4x200 Relay, 4x400 Relay, 4x800 Relay, Nizar Al-Arahshun (400), and Andres Chapa (1600).
“Our girls, we’re a top five team in the state.” Wilkinson said. “We don’t have as much depth as we do on the boys’ side, but in the events that we compete in – we’re really good.”
Madison Caputo captured gold in the 300 hurdles. The girls 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams also won first place. Danielle Shaw (100 Hurdles) and Auryana Johnson (800) were second place finishers for the Lady Tigers.
A season ago, Broken Arrow Tiger baseball returned from its annual spring break trip to Arizona as the undefeated Best of West Spring Classic Champions. This year, the plan is to return a little healthier.
Drew Lowe, the Tigers leading hitter, has missed the last three games with injury. Coach Shannon Dobson lists him as “day-to-day.” The top-of-the-order hitter and starting center fielder could be in the lineup for BA’s first game in Arizona on Monday against Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School.
Expectations for the return of Kohl Franklin are a bit more conservative. Franklin, who fractured his foot on a foul tip, may pitch toward the end of the week in the Arizona tournament. He has played in just two games this season and has yet to pitch.
“When you lose a guy who you expect to be your number one or two, that kind of leaves a hole in your (pitching) staff,” said Tiger head coach Shannon Dobson.
Brett Biggs, Trey Wolf and the rest of the mound men have dialed up top notch performances during Franklin’s absence, however.
Wolf (2-0) no-hit Ponca City Monday – a 10-0, 5-inning Tiger victory – and has surrendered three hits, no runs and recorded 21 strikeouts in 12 innings. Biggs (3-0) has a 1.65 ERA in his three starts. As a team, Tiger pitchers have a 1.84 ERA, struck out 39 and allowed just 32 hits in 38 innings.
The Tigers are 6-1 on the season – ahead of Thursday’s home game against Rogers (Ark.) Heritage – and 4-0 in district play. Their first game back from spring break – March 26 – will be on the road against Enid, who also is currently 6-1 and 4-0. The Plainsmen began the year ranked No. 14 in the country by Baseball America. Broken Arrow hosts Enid the next day at 6 p.m.
BA Tigers “Best of West” Schedule
Monday, March 19, 1 p.m. vs. Chaparral at Notre Dame Prep
Monday, March 19, 7 p.m. vs. Notre Dame Prep at Notre Dame Prep
Tuesday, March 20, 4 p.m. vs. Westwood at Greenway
Tuesday, March 20, 7 p.m. vs. Greenway at Greenway
Wednesday, March 21, Seeded Games and Finals
The aggressive, free-flowing swing of Harrison St. Clair’s forehand and compact power delivered in his one-handed backstroke were derailed for the early portion of the tennis season by, of all things, passion for Oklahoma Sooners football.
As Georgia’s Sony Micheal took the direct snap, dashed outside Sooner defensive containment and sprinted along the sideline untouched for a game-deciding, double-overtime touchdown in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day to deny OU the opportunity to play for a national championship, St. Claire unleashed his frustration by punching a living room wall.
“It comes from my dad’s side,” St. Clair explained. “We’re crazy OU fans. We yell at the TV and it even scares our dogs. But that was an expensive punch.”
The end results were four pins in his right hand. Two each on the ring and pinky finger bones. It delayed the Broken Arrow High School junior’s tennis season, but offered quick educational.
“Don’t punch walls. Walls win,” St. Clair said.
The next thought was about the coming spring.
“There goes tennis,” St. Clair said. “The doctor said it was one of the nastiest breaks she had ever seen.”
Two months and two surgeries later, the player slated to play No. 1 singles for the 2018 Tigers will play his first competitive match of the season this week. At doubles. His hope – and that of Coach Scott Milner – is to play singles shortly after spring break.
“It was painful having to watch everyone practice and sit on the bench,” St. Clair said. “It’s one of the best feelings to get back and play a sport that I love.”
St. Clair’s passion for tennis came at a young age while watching the game on television. He idolized Roger Federer, the greatest player of his generation and perhaps of all time.
“His one-hander definitely made me want to have a one-hand backhand,” St. Claire said.
The injury has slowed the on-going development of that backhand, however.
“It’s hard trying to get back in the feel because I haven’t had enough power to put into my one-hander,” St. Clair said. “It’s not even really pain anymore. It’s just a little sting. I’m getting there.”
The forehand St. Clair claims as his “biggest weapon” is coming into form as well.
“When I unload on a forehand it stings pretty bad,” he said. “It makes me want to slow it down a little bit. It does pop in my mind that I’m going to hurt my hand again, so I ease it down. I need to find that middle stage.”
It is not just the power of Federer’s swing that drew St. Claire to pattern his style of play after the record-setting, 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“He’s so self-composed,” St. Claire noted. “I was a hothead in ninth grade. Tenth grade I was getting there, but now I’m just trying to be self-composed. Show no emotion and no one gets in your head.”
St. Claire is a two-time state qualifier. He played singles as a freshman and No. 1 doubles with Luke Herndon a year ago.
“He is not going to be surprised by any challenges or high pressure situations,” Milner spoke of St. Claire’s state tournament experience. “When he gets back into singles, he’s going to be motivated. He’s going to be pumped up. He’s going to be really hungry to earn his spot and establish himself. He will be in a good place mentally.”
Parents of Broken Arrow High School, Freshman Academy and middle school student-athletes may go online to complete necessary forms to assure their child is eligible to begin participation in school athletics.
The completion of such forms as the Emergency Consent Form, Concussion and Head Injury Acknowledgement Form and the Risk/Insurance/Transportation Consent Form is required before a student is eligible to participate in Broken Arrow athletics. Other online forms parents are required to complete include the OSSAA’s Eligibility and Recruiting Forms, the Social Networking Form and the Drug Testing Consent Form.
To begin completion of the forms parents will need to include their child’s first and last names and know their child’s student ID number. An electronic signature of one parent is required.
Student-athletes are also required to have a current physical on file in order to participate in Broken Arrow school-sponsored athletics.
Online completion of the required forms is more convenient for parents and will streamline the process for Broken Arrow athletic department administrators, coaches and trainers. Visit RankOneSport's website to start the online forms process.