YUKON — As Haley Woodard rounded the final corner of the 400-meter dash at the Class 6A state track meet Saturday in Yukon, the Norman North freshman had a lot of ground to make up. She entered the stretch run about 10 feet behind two-time state champion Tyler Wisby, who rarely, if ever, loses a lead in the final kick. It was a difficult position to be in, and one that most athletes couldn’t hope to make up.
In other words, Woodard was right where she wanted to be.
She kicked it up a notch, and steadily made up ground on the defending state champion, passing her just before the finish line to win the state title by just .13 seconds.
“I wanted to stay behind her on purpose to surprise her,” Woodard said after receiving her state champion medal. “I’ve read a lot about her and I knew she was amazing. It was a great race.”
Woodard’s excitement was obvious after the race, but that wasn’t the first emotion she felt after winning.
“I was relieved that it was over,” she said. “I didn’t even know at first that I’d won. I looked up at my mom to ask what place I finished and she just told me to not worry about it.”
Wisby was the favorite entering the race after taking the Class 4A title two years and the 6A title in the 400 last season. She jumped out early and led the race for all but the final tenth of second.
“Honestly, I can’t remember her ever being beat,” coach Mike Ramsey said of Wisby. “For Haley to beat her, that just shows how phenomenal she is.”
Woodard also made up big ground in the 1600 relay, passing three runners on the last lap to lead North to a second-place finish. Behind Woodard, North’s girls finished in fifth place with 44 points.
The NHS girls’ team finished in 14th with 13 points. Edmond Santa Fe won the meet with 97 points.
North’s boys ran better than expected, and finished in seventh place with 26 points. One of the highlights was the 400 relay, in which Erwin Frazier, Brian Payne, Shaquan Arnold and Corbin Cleveland took more than a second off their previous best time to finish fourth in the event.
“Everyone ran well today,” Ramsey said. “I’m really pleased with how we did as a team. As a coach, you just get them here and let them do it. And they were doing it well today.”
Woodard wasn’t the only Norman athlete to win a state title Saturday. Norman High junior Colin Pasque also upset the defending state champion in the pole vault to take away first-place honors with a jump 15-06.00.
Pasque entered the event in the middle of the pack but kept making the jumps. He jumped every height until it was just him and defending champion Dillon Lookout from Jenks.
“After both of us made 15, I tried to just stick to my normal routine and have fun with it,” Pasque said. “I knew it was going to take a perfect jump. It all went by really fast and the next thing I know I’m sailing over it.”
After Pasque made the jump, the pressure was on Lookout, and he was unable to make the jump in any of his three attempts, giving Pasque the title.
“It feels weird,” he said. “I didn’t come in expecting to win.”
Winning the event was all the more special for Pasque because he had most of his friends and family in the crowd to cheer him on.
“There was a lot of pressure,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen this year, and I’m just really thankful that it did.”
Behind Pasque’s title and strong showing from the distance runners on Friday, NHS finished fifth at the meet with 50 points.
Corbin Hosler 366-3528 firstname.lastname@example.org