Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 5, 2013

Poteete dominates, Tigers sitting in 2nd place

Tahlequah teams behind Booker T. Washington with 3 events left at 5A regional track meet.

Ara Poteete and Arlando Johnson went mano-a-mano on Saturday afternoon. Funny thing is, there's a good chance neither one would recognize the other in a crowd.

Both Poteete and Johnson went on furious point-scoring binges during the Class 5A track regional at Tahlequah High School. Poteete accounted for more points, but it was Johnson's team that prevailed.

Poteete, a Tahlequah senior, cruised to victories in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs while mixing in a victory with his teammates in the 3,200-meter relay. Johnson also secured two individual triumphs — in the 100-meter dash and the long jump — while his Booker T. Washington brethren racked up 154 points to claim the top spot in the team standings.

However, the Hornets can't claim to be regional champions yet. Because of dismal weather conditions — temperatures in the mid 40s, strong winds and off-and-on precipitation all day — three events (discus, shotput and pole vault) were postponed until Monday at 4 p.m.

The weather — as hard as it tried — failed to ruin Poteete's day. The Tahlequah senior pulled off a career-first, hauling in three gold medals in one day.

"I'm going to lie to you, that mile hurt," Poteete said of the 1,600-meter run, the second-to-last event of the day. "I was stressing about this all week, and it turned out great. I can't complain with the outcome of today."

Also not complaining, Tahlequah coach Bart Frank. With his team needing a herculean effort on Monday to unseat the Hornets from the regional lead, Frank admitted that Booker T. Washington was slightly better on the eve of the state meet.

"They beat us today," he said. "But we're going to work to be better than them next weekend."

Both the Tigers and Hornets will take a strong contingent to the state meet in Yukon on Friday and Saturday.

Tahlequah will be well-armed with distance runners.

With Poteete leading the charge, the Tigers will also have Zech VanFleet in the 1,600-meter run and Mohamed Bassime in the 3,200-meter run. VanFleet finished third in the one-mile race, finishing at 4:44.25, which was seven seconds off Poteete's winning time. Bassime (10:28.87) picked up the silver in the two-mile haul, edging past Coweta's Bryan Roberts by less than a second.

"Solid day for our distance guys," Frank said. "Same for our relays, too."

Indeed.

The Tigers were second in 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays. The Hornets, though, finished first in three of the events.

Tahlequah's only other state meet qualifier was Aaron Eversole in 800-meter run. Brandon Conrad tied for third in the high jump at 5 feet, 10 inches and will need to be an addition qualifier for the state meet.

"Conditions had a lot to do with it today," Frank said of Conrad's performance in the high jump. "[Also], I was pretty busy and wasn't able to be there when he jumped, and me being there helps a lot of times."

In the two throwing events on Monday, Tahlequah's Eric Garcia, Sylas Sloan and Logan Cook will all attempt to cut into Booker T. Washington's lead and punch a ticket to the state tournament.

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