By BEN JOHNSON
Tahlequah came up just short of a Class 5A regional track crown on Monday afternoon. But it’d be hard to blame the throwers for that.
Led by Eric Garcia’s first-place finish in the shotput, the Tigers racked up 34 points in the two throwing events and helped Tahlequah amass a total of 151 points — four points shy of champion Booker T. Washington.
“It would have been nice to make it a three-peat,” Tahlequah coach Bart Frank said. “But our No. 1 goal is what we reached: qualify everyone we needed [for the state meet].”
After the Tigers’ long-distance runners dominated during harsh conditions on Saturday, the throwers followed suit on Monday. The shotput, discus and pole vault were all held Monday at Tahlequah High School after the events were postponed because of substandard surfaces over the weekend.
Garcia unfurled a throw of 49 feet and a 1/2 inch to beat Poteau’s Trevor Shankle by 2 3/4 inches to win gold in the shotput.
“Eric had someone out-throw him early on,” Frank said. “So he came right back and responded.”
Garcia’s teammate, Logan Cook, also punched his ticket to the state meet in the shotput. He came in third place with a throw of 46 feet, 11 inches, which was four inches better than Coweta’s Clark Stunkard.
Cook now will be a busy thrower at the state meet in Yukon on Friday and Saturday. That’s because he also qualify in the discus.
Cook reeled off a toss of 140 feet and a 1/2 inch to pick up the bronze in his favorite throwing event.
“I expected to qualify in the discus,” he said. “But to qualify in both events felt really good.”
Wagoner’s Lateze Clayton ended up with the discus crown at 148 feet, 11 1/2 inches. But behind him was a trio of Tigers in Garcia, Sylas Sloan and Cook.
Sloan led the barrage of points in second point with a toss of 148 feet. Cook followed and Garcia turned in a fourth-place performance with a heave of 139 feet, 5 inches.
For the Tahlequah trio, it was just a normal afternoon in the discus ring. They challenge each other day in and day out, and it paid off with two guaranteed tickets to the state meet and likely a third for Garcia as an additional qualifier.
“Sylas, Eric and I put this type of pressure on each other every week,” Cook said, “to prepare ourselves for each meet.”
Frank, talking about his throwers, said, “They really stepped up and scored 34 points. That was an outstanding performance.”
In the pole vault, Coweta’s Trent Lawerence, Pryor’s Scott Hill and Matt Jeffries tied for first at 13 feet. However, Lawerence won the title based on number of attempts.
Tahlequah went into the final day trailing Booker T. Washington 154-117. And Cook was a little disheartened that he and his club couldn’t rally and win the title.
“Of course,” he said when asked if he was disappointed with second place. “We always want to win.”
Coweta (84), Wagoner (76) and Pryor (58) rounded out the top five in the 5A boys regional.
For the Tahlequah girls, Janeth Seirra turned in the team’s best showing on Monday with a fourth-place performance in the discus. Seirra recorded a throw of 97 feet, 8 1/2 inches, while Miami’s Ashlynn Waltz won at 124 feet, 6 inches.
Pryor’s Courtney Miller won shotput gold at 34 feet, 9 1/4 inches. Grove’s Braleigh Bechtol claimed the pole vault title at 10 feet, 6 inches.
The Booker T. Washington easily won the regional championship with 175 points. The next closest was Tahlequah at 117. Grove was third with 91 points.