CONFERENCE CONUNDRUM: MLC Meet future uncertain with rain forecasted

Apr. 24—Year in and year out, every team wants to win the Metro Lakes Conference.

It involves a sense of pride, according to Tahlequah Tigers distance coach David Spears. THS girls track coach Elzy Miller says any team that wins the MLC will have a good chance of doing something at the State Tournament.

Despite the prestige around the event, the 2024 MLC Meet might not happen this season. Expected rain in Claremore on Friday, April 26, has cast a shadow of doubt. A reschedule was presented, but most coaches didn't want to move the meet to the next week due to Regionals starting later in the week.

"I want to run it, we've done it in the rain before. We would just lose some events," Miller said.

If the meet does go on through the rain, only a couple of events will be axed. The discus throw and high jumps would be canceled, with the points being distributed across the visiting teams. Outside of those events, as long as there isn't any lighting, the other events should be able to go on without a hitch.

If the event does take place, the Tigers are expecting to have some runners make waves.

"I expect the very best they can put out effort-wise," Spears said. "I looked at some of our times and I was pleased with our effort. This is a close-knit team with some great kids; that's what makes it so fun, win or lose."

On the girls' side, McKenna Hood, Tori Pham, Kori Rainwater and more have a chance to take home some Metro Lakes Conference wins. As far as the team goes, Miller said the main focus is doing well in relays.

"We are putting an emphasis on relays because they are double points during the MLC Meet," Miller said.

The Lady Tigers have a chance to win their fourth straight MLC title. Overall, they have brought home 6-of-10 MLC titles over the past 10 years.

Likewise, the boys' side is looking to do well in their relays, specifically the 4x800 meter. Composed of Teven Neal, Ismael Perez, Matt Talburt and Trae Baker, this team put up the third-best time in the state during the Tiger Classic, according to Spears. Together they ran an 8:09 for first place.

"That group ran an 8:09 at the Tahlequah Classic. We are pulling together better; I am really proud of the kids. They are selfless; they work hard and do whatever they need for the team," Spears said.

In the most recent meet at Claremore, the Tigers ran without Baker and still finished in second place, with Wyatt Burleson taking Baker's spot.

If the meet goes without a hitch, this will be one of Baker's last chances to set any more school records. After breaking the record in the 800-meter, Baker has his eyes set on potentially breaking the 400-meter record as well.

"He'd like to go 3200 mile, mile relay and the 400 just to help get us points. He is just a great kid trying to help the team out in any way possible," Spears said.

Even though Baker might be the Tigers' best 800-meter runner, there is a good chance he won't run in the event, thanks to Matt Talburt. After playing baseball last season, Talburt has become a key part of the Tigers this season. According to Spears, Talburt has been doing well enough to put Baker on other events to get points.

The Tigers finished the MLC Meet in second place last season.

If weather permits, the MLC meet will kick off at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 26.

Follow live sports coverage @JakeSermershein on Twitter