Brandon Conrad watched as McAlester’s Zach Skimbo climbed to the top step of the podium in 2013. He made sure he was the one standing taller than the rest this year.
Conrad pulled off a jump of 6 feet, 6 inches and beat the rest of the field in the high jump event at the Class 5A state track at Yukon High School on Saturday.
“I loved every second of it standing up there in front of everyone,” Conrad said of standing atop the podium. “There is nothing like it.”
But before he was awarded his gold medal, Conrad shared a special moment with his biggest fan.
“That was my mom,” Conrad said of Dianna Fountain. “She has been my biggest fan and supporter and I had to celebrate that special moment with her, my dad and brother.”
Conrad’s closest competitor was Southeast’s Jashawn Talton, who topped out at 6 feet, 4 inches. Conrad cleared the bar at 6 feet, 6 inches but he thought Talton might clear that mark, too.
“I wasn't completely sure it was over, because he had just had a really good attempt his second jump on 6-6,” Conrad said.
However, Talton came up short and the title belonged to Conrad.
“It was the greatest feeling ever,” he said.
Conrad accounted for 10 of Tahlequah’s 28 points at the state meet. The Tigers ended up finishing in 10th place, with Deer Creek claiming the championship with 118 points.
“I will miss the seniors,” Tahlequah coach Bart Frank said. “They have been great to work with and a joy to be around. I’m also excited about the future, but we have some big shoes to fill.”
Tahlequah’s other top performers at the state meet were Zech VanFleet, Eric Garcia and Logan Cook.
VanFleet finished fourth in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Deer Creek’s Bryce Balenseifen won both events.
Garcia was fifth in the shotput at 49 feet, 7 inches. Ardmore’s Daylen Baker won at 54 feet 9 inches.
And in the other throwing event, Cook was fourth in the discus at 144 feet, 3 inches. Duncan’s Kevin Roddy picked up the gold at 174 feet, 10 inches.
The Tigers also picked up some points by finishing fifth in the two-mile relay. Braxton Hood, Will Carlile, Mo Bassime and VanFleet combined for a time of 8:16.78. Claremore was first at 8:01.92.
Looking ahead to next year, Frank said: “We do have a big freshman bunch and I am excited to see which of those will be ready to make an impact next season.”
The Tahlequah girls picked up 22 points at the state meet, led by Lyric Peterson’s throw of 39 feet, 9 inches, which was good enough for second place in the shotput. Piedmont’s Bre Davis won the gold at 41 feet, 7 inches.
Amy Hembree was third for Tahlequah in the 1,600-meter run. She finished at 5:34.94 in the one-mile race, and Grove’s Michaela Werner was the winner at 5:17.47.
Hembree also helped lead Tahlequah to a fifth-place showing in the 3,200-meter relay. Tahlequah clocked a time of 10:19.12, and Shawnee took top honors at 9:46.16.
Tahlequah’s final points came from Morgan Thompson, who was fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. She had a time of 16.74 and Guthrie’s Asia Johnson won at 15.59.
As for Conrad, his future in track is still undecided.
“I’m not sure what is next for me,” Conrad said. “...Honestly, the best offer I’ll get, I’ll go. And I’m not sure if I’m going to the Meet of Champions yet.”
The Meet of Champions is in Moore today.