HS TRACK: McAlester relay team sprinting toward success

Derek Hatridge, McAlester News-Capital, Okla.
·2 min read

Apr. 23—These runners are giving new meaning to "Buff fast."

Caleb Taylor, Grant Owens, Gavin Johnson, Erik McCarty, and Jaxon Walters are members of the McAlester relay track team that has been making waves and taking home hardware all season long.

But Taylor was first to admit things didn't start out as they would have liked.

"It was pretty rough at first. When we were practicing our handoffs, it wasn't good at all," Taylor said. "But now we're building up to what we should be and need to be."

McCarty echoed the rough start, but said the team continues to put in a lot of hard work.

"I fell at Tahlequah in a relay, but I think once we get our handoffs down and working, we'll be cooking," McCarty said.

Since those early starts, McAlester has jumped out of the gate to become one of the fastest relay teams in the state in multiple races. And Taylor said being able to do that against the toughest competition as been incredible.

"It feels good to be competing with 6A as a 5A team," Taylor said. "So it feels good being able to beat those 6A teams."

Walters said he knew early on this team had the potential to be successful.

"I knew we had it once we started," Walters said. "I mean, I looked around at what we had and I saw our times, I knew we were going to be good either way."

Most recently, the Buffs finished in first place in both the 4x100 with a 44.94 time and 1:35.24 in the 4x200 at Checotah on Tuesday — helping to earn McAlester the second place finish overall in the boys division.

As they look ahead toward the regional meet on May 8, the Buffs know there's still a lot of race left, and that they have to continue to improve and get better.

"I just feel like we can't really stay steady, because there's a lot of teams trying to beat us," Owens said. "We've got to keep improving."

When asked who was the fastest, there was no hesitation as everyone pointed toward Johnson. But even with a smile on his face, Johnson turned serious when talking about the focus his team is keeping.

"I think we're just trying to focus on not getting complacent with our times," he said.

But confidence is something that works to McAlester's advantage as well, as Walters mentioned they know the potential they have in front of them.

"We just need to not be nervous about anything either," Walters said. "We know what we can do, we know who we are, and we know each other."

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.