By BEN JOHNSON
Sylas Sloan had been waiting all winter for the Jenks track meet. It marked the beginning of his final track season at Tahlequah High School.
But when March 15 rolled around, Sloan had to sit out while his teammates competed and finished fifth at Jenks.
Sloan ended up being nothing more than a spectator after injuring his back while working out. Luckily for him, though, the Jenks meet was the only one before Tahlequah went on spring break.
During the weeklong hiatus, Sloan spent that time taking relaxing to the next level.
“I was just sitting around in California,” he said. “It was nice. I was Los Angeles. Venice Beach. It was a lot better than being here while it was snowing and raining.”
That time off must have paid dividends.
Sloan returned to top form last week when he unleashed a throw of 143 feet, 4 inches to win the discus title at the Claremore meet.
“I just went out there and practice hard,” he said, “and threw my best.”
This year all of Sloan’s practice time has been spent in the discus circle, after he opted to strip himself of shotput duties. The decision to do that dawned on him last year at the state meet.
“I realized when I got to state that I’m very underqualified,” Sloan said. “I’m good in this area, but when I got to state those guys could blow me out of the water.”
By shedding shotput, Sloan has had ample time improve his discus skills.
“I’ve dedicated myself more to the sport. I went to a couple of throwing camps and learned some new tricks,” Sloan said. “I got a lot of the bad habits I used to have out of the way. I’m improving a lot.”
Sloan will attempt to claim his second straight discus crown at today’s Reasors Track Classic at Tahlequah High School.
“I love throwing against competition,” Sloan said. “And several of my teammates can throw good, too. So when they do that, it makes me want to throw even farther and be a leader.”
As always, the Tahlequah meet will showcase some of the best talent from all of northeast Oklahoma.
“It’s always one of the toughest meets in the area,” Tahlequah coach Bart Frank said. “We’ve got all the big (schools) coming in: Broken Arrow, Jenks, Union, Owasso, Sapulpa, Bartlesville and Coweta. 5A-wise, Coweta has been pretty strong this year.”
Athletes to watch
• Chance Galloway (Memorial) - Something has got to give in the 400-meter race. Galloway and Broken Arrow's Cre Moore have squared off twice this season in the event, both besting one another one time. Plus, both Galloway (47.78) and Moore (48.84) hold state-best times in the 400-meter run this season at both Class 5A and 6A, respectively.
• Ara Poteete (Tahlequah) - After winning the title in the 1,600-meter race at Jenks, Poteete got the week off at Claremore last week. He'll return in the one-mile competition against Union's Mark Middleton and Jenks' Chris Staub.
• Stanvon Taylor (East Central) - The Oklahoma football signee has 5A's farthest leap in the long jump this season at 22 feet, 9 inches. Booker T. Washington's Arlando Johnson and McAlester's Caden Pratt will also be in the mix, too.
• Bo Farrow (Broken Arrow) - The senior thrower didn't take part in the discus or the shotput last season at Tahlequah. But he should throw this year, and there's likely no one that will come close to beating him in shotput or discus. The Pittsburg State signee holds both state-highs in both categories in 6A this season.
• Abby Hoover (Sapulpa) - The senior runner holds the best time in 6A in the 800-meter run this season at 2:19. Hoover will be the favorite in the half-mile race, but Tahlequah's Jessica Hembree and Gracie Medellin and Owasso's Haley Giessler should be other strong contenders.
• Imani Davis (Union): Davis' leap of 5 feet, 6 inches in the best in the high jump in 6A this year. Davis is also the Reasors Track Classic record holder in the event, recording a jump of 5 feet, 8 inches in 2012.