Sports are currently stuck in the unforgiving summer lull, but that is all about to change.
The fall season will soon be upon us, and with it brings cross-country, softball, volleyball and my personal favorite — football.
This will be my first time covering Rogers County teams during the fall for the Claremore Progress, and I am excited to bring you all the camaraderie and pageantry in digestible bites.
Some publications might choose to focus on only football during this time of year, but not me.
After all, that is the reason I got into sports journalism in the first place. To provide coverage of sports that aren’t quite as popular as the big three — football, basketball and baseball.
Although the Progress and I have big plans for football, the other three sports will get their fair share of coverage.
As we come closer to August and teams begin hammering out their weekly regime, you can expect team previews, player features and much, much more.
Be prepared for a loaded sports section on a daily basis.
To kick off the festivities, the Progress plans to host its first media day.
This will provide all Rogers County teams an opportunity to gather in one place and meet the Progress coverage team for interviews and photos that will be used throughout the upcoming season.
We don’t have all the details figured out just yet, but there will probably be one for football and another for the remaining sports.
This will also be an opportunity for me to connect with all local coaches so I can contact them for information when there are games I can’t attend.
I want to ensure no team or school gets left behind.
I’ve already been working hard to formulate my personal coverage schedule for the entire fall season so I know exactly what to expect from week to week.
In doing so, I am trying to cover as many area vs. area games as possible, while also rotating sports and schools when there are overlaps.
That means coverage of softball and volleyball will be balanced, as it should be.
I’ve written plenty about football plenty of times over the past few weeks, so let’s take a look at other sports.
Of the eight OSSAA softball teams in Rogers County, four walked out of 2018 with a winning record.
Verdigris led the way, finishing with an astonishing 34 wins and only two losses. The Lady Cardinals lost some key players from last year’s squad, but among those returning are All-District 3A-5 Defensive Player of the Year Megan Turner and Faith Weiesnbach.
Expect Verdigris to make another run at Class 3A supremacy.
Oologah also had itself quite a year on the diamond last season, accumulating a 30-7 record on the way to a Class 4A state tournament berth.
Kiah Purdunn and Bailie Runner are among the returners for the Lady Mustangs.
Also watch out for Inola, which returns Jamie Burk, Lacey Stamper, Avery Cosper and Lillie Walker from last year’s 21-16 squad.
Sequoyah was the team that eliminated the Lady Longhorns from Class 4A state tournament contention, and it is poised to follow its 24-9 campaign with even more success.
The Lady Eagles lost stars Ariel Thompson and Kayleigh Jones, but Lauryn Anderson is a name expected to produce desirable results in 2019.
Claremore finished one game under .500 last season but have some upside heading into this fall. Look for more on the Lady Zebras next week.
Success wasn’t as common for the local volleyball teams in 2018.
Six schools competed in the sport, and Claremore led the way with a 21-18 record last season.
Catoosa was next at 19-16, and Oologah rounded out the winning teams with a 13-12 record. Both saw their seasons end in the regional tournament.
The Lady Zebras lose an All-State caliber athlete in Dani Meisinger, but a core group of returners have them setting high goals this season.
Brook Jones is back for her senior season after being named to the All-Metro Lakes Conference first team, and second-team selections Hailey Charles and Maddie Hardage are back as well.
Seniors Hailey Grant, Riley Renfroe and sophomore Becca Hilmes are also expected to carry a significant load as Claremore tries to return to the Class 5A state tournament for the third-straight year.
Look out for Claremore on the trails, ya’ll.
Both Zebras squads returns most of their varsity teams, which both placed in the top 10 at the Class 5A state meet last October.
Jack Vincent, who was named Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year by the Tulsa World, looks to improve his fourth-place finish at state. He and state champion Christian Arenivar of Santa Fe South are the only returning runners who finished in the top seven last season.
Joining Vincent will be junior Tyler Douthitt and seniors Blaine and Blake Phillippi. That group just happens to be the Zebras’ top runners from a year ago. The team placed ninth as state.
On the girls’ side, top-15 finishers Laynie Nichols (Sr.) and Erin Kuykendall (Jr.) return to lead the Claremore girls after helping the team to an eighth-place finish last season.
The depth doesn’t end there, though.
Juniors Katy Grubbs, Ainsley Hendrickson, Kate Bustamante and Carolina Stokes also return, meaning the Lady Zebras must replace only one varsity runner from last season — Sophie McCall.
Despite losing star Tori Wood, who placed 11th at the Class 4A state meet, to graduation, the Sequoyah girls are sitting pretty with its returning team.
The Lady Eagles return the remaining six of their varsity squad, five of which are entering their sophomore seasons — Kyra Crenshaw, Sidney Roland, Abby Pennington, Cailin Warner and Kennedy Cloud.
Senior Alicia Mercado is the other returning member.
The boys had five runners compete at state, and all return.
Sophomore Eli Wood, senior Carlos Zavala and juniors Morgan Holman, Trent Carriger and William Morales are back to carry Sequoyah to new heights following its 21st-place finish at state.
Dipping down to Class 2A girls, Chelsea brings back four varsity runners from its state team that placed 21st.
Leading the way for the Lady Dragons is junior trio Makayla Greene, Paige Beggs and Miranda Rue. Joining them will be senior Meadow Barton.
All of this is only the beginning for Rogers County prep sports.
Many great things and memorable moments are in store for every team in this area, and I can’t wait to share their stories with our loyal readers.