YUKON — Kirsten Burnett thought she needed pass one person on the final leg of the 1,600-meter relay to give the Deer Creek girls the state championship.
Just to be certain, she passed two.
“I wasn't gonna take any chances,” she said. “I was gonna run as hard as I can to get us as close as I can. Just go.”
After taking the baton with her team in fourth, Burnett raced to a second-place finish, which was good enough to give Deer Creek its first girls track state championship Saturday at Yukon High School.
The boys team, however, had no such drama, winning the 5A state title by more than 100 points to complete the Deer Creek double. Deer Creek finished with 175 points, with Duncan second at 71.
“This is a legacy,” senior Otugo Ananaba said. “Everybody here is a witness of what hard work does. I'm just glad we all got to be part of it.”
Ananaba headed the boys' charge, winning four gold medals. Individually, he won the 100 meters in 10.52 seconds, then took the 200 in 21.31, while contributing to a pair of relay victories.
For the boys team, it was the second straight team title, and second in school history. An otherwise young team got some help from senior football players like Joel Blumenthal and Jared Rayburn to close out the season strong.
“Our football team had such a great year and got knocked out, so this was a great way for them to go out as champions,” said David Riden, head coach of both the boys and girls teams. “It would be hard to point to one or two things that did it for our boys' teams. We got contributions from everywhere.”
In all, the Deer Creek boys won three relays, and Bryce Balenseifen won both the 3,200 and 1,600 runs, while helping on the 3,200 relay.
They took the top two spots in the 110 hurdles, with Kale Jackson's time of 14.74 coming in just ahead of teammate Landon Huslig at 14.81. Huslig turned around and won the 300 hurdles in 38.55, with Jackson third.
The girls team didn't claim as much gold as the boys, but won the title with balance, by scoring in multiple events to finish with 101.5 points. Shawnee was second with 96.
The girls won the 400 relay in 49.09, and Burnett repeated her 100-200 double. She won the 100 meters in a time of 12.15 seconds and followed it up with a 200-meter win in 24.79.
Most impressively, Deer Creek graduates very few seniors off either team, so this could be the start of a strong run for the Antler programs.
“We've got young kids on each team that are getting to enjoy this, being mentored, and learning how to be champions,” Riden said. “It's such a good closing for some and a good building block for others. It's just great.”