Ever since his freshman year, Claremore High School senior sprinter Tyler Jackson had his mind set on running track for the University of Arkansas.
Their winning history, beautiful facilities and the closeness to Claremore sounded too good to pass up.
That was until Jackson caught the eye of Oklahoma State and sprint coach Diego Flaquer.
“OSU really wasn’t in my decision at all until Coach (Diego) Flaquer contacted me,” Jackson said. “Early on, I was set on running track at Arkansas or LSU, both successful programs in the SEC.”
But the thought of starting something ‘golden’ in Stillwater helped persuade Jackson to become a Cowboy and run in the Big 12.
“OSU hasn’t had a sprint program in over 30 years,” Jackson said. “You look at Arkansas and LSU, those are schools that are already established and successful.
“I wanted to be a part of something built from the ground-up. Something that I could put my stamp on (be remembered by).”
Jackson added that Flaquer’s personality is what won him over and sign his national letter of intent last Wednesday with OSU.
“Coach Flaquer took an interest in me and how I could help make the OSU sprint program a winner,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t about him or the school, it was more of a personal (relationship) with his track athletes.”
Throughout his career at Claremore High School, Jackson has proven to be the fastest ‘athlete’ on campus.
There’s not too many sprinters in Oklahoma — from Class 6A to Class C — that have been able to catch Jackson in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races.
According to Jackson, Broken Arrow’s Devon Thomas — now a freshman running back at OSU — is the last loss the Claremore sprinter suffered in the 100-meters.
“It was my freshman year, and I had never lost a race before in my life,” Jackson said. “Devon (Thomas) one of my closest friends got the best of me that day.”
Since that loss, Jackson’s track career sky-rocketed and put Claremore on the map.
Over the past three years, Claremore’s Jackson has been a household favorite at the Class 5A state track meet in Yukon.
He’s won 6 medals — 2 golds in the 400, 2 silvers in the 100 and a silver and a bronze in the 200 — at the highest level of high school competition ... the 5A State Track Meets.
“All the success and being in Claremore has humbled me,” Jackson said. “I have to remember that I do live in a small town and everyone, including kids, are looking up to me.”
Being able to take his blazing speed to Stillwater, Jackson credits his father’s influence and coaching throughout the years.
“Dad (Reginald Carter) taught me to stay humble and always go after my dreams,” Jackson said. “He also taught me to secure it, not broadcast it (when it came to success).”
With Jackson’s signing to OSU, Flaquer plans to build the sprint program around the Claremore speedster.
“OSU’s cross country is a national champion contender year in and year out, and now if we can build the sprint program, it will be like bringing the underdogs to the top,” Jackson said.
Arkansas may have been Jackson’s first choice, but OSU stole a gem on Signing Day.
“It’s good to go somewhere and be needed,” Jackson said. “I hope when I’m done, everyone knows my name.”