Jack Vincent

Claremore High student Jack Vincent (1) leads the pack during the 800-meter race at the Great Southwest Classic meet in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday. Vincent won the race, retaining his title from last year.

Jack Vincent was shocked.

Although his muscles were aching and his energy was draining, the Claremore junior didn’t expect anyone to truly challenge him for the top spot in the 800-meter field.

However, when he saw MacArthur’s Daniel Nickell sneaking up on his right shoulder, he began to panic.

“At that point, my form just broke down,” Vincent said. “It was a bad finish to the race.”

Nickell won the race and the state title with a time of 1:56.20, dethroning Vincent in the process. Vincent clocked in at 1:56.28.

Vincent won the event at the 2018 state meet in 1:56.76.

“I was on pace for a pretty good time through the first lap, but on that last 100, I just didn’t have it,” Vincent said. “My muscles weren’t really responding. It might have had something to do with the 2-mile I ran the day before. I ran a 14-second PR (9 minutes, 46 seconds) in that race.”

Most runners would be happy with a second-place finish, but not Vincent.

He was the heavy favorite coming into the state meet, which was held on May 10 and 11 at Moore High School.

His personal best of 1:53.80 was nearly five seconds ahead of the second fastest time in Class 5A.

“When it’s like that, you definitely get the best out of the other runners,” Vincent said. “I lost a little confidence, but I’m starting to build back up.”

After the disappointing finish, Vincent was more motivated than ever, and he put that determination to good use at the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday, June 8.

This time he defended his title, winning the 800-meter race in 1:57.46. Vincent won the event in 2018 as well with a time of 1:56.76.

“Going into this year, I felt pretty confident about how to run in this competition,” Vincent said. “I match up pretty well with the runners that go, and I was actually seeded No. 1 going in. It was a situation where I didn’t expect myself to win, but I knew it could be done.

“I just went out there and ran my best.”

Not bad considering New Mexico’s largest city sits 5,312 feet above sea level. That’s quite an increase from Claremore, which has an elevation of only 597 feet.

“That doesn’t affect hardly anything at all in the sprints, but there’s a little bit of an affect in the 800 and above,” Vincent said.

Vincent edged Aden Baughman of Sand Springs (1:57.76) to retain his crown.

The two are no strangers to each other, for they ran the two fastest times (1:53.80 and 1:53.83) in the entire state this year in the same race back in April.

Those times ranked 18th and 19th in the nation among high schoolers.

“I looked forward to racing against him again,” Vincent said. “He probably didn’t have his best race, but it was good to compete against him like always.”

Vincent and Baughman also teamed up for 4x800 relay alongside Mooreland’s Collen McLain and Kyle Henry of Shawnee, placing fourth with a time of 7:57.18. Team Colorado won, clocking in at 7:42.

“It’s really cool to put together a sort of All-Star relay to represent Oklahoma and run a time that no one can really get close to back in the state.”

As for now, Vincent isn’t planning on running in another regional or national meet for the rest of the summer.

He’s instead using the free time to workout and get better for the upcoming cross-country season.

And though he wasn’t able to match his 1:53.80 before the end of the spring, he is willing to take the necessary steps to run even faster.

With more than half a year between him and the 2020 track season, he has all the time he needs to do just that.

“I’m going to step up my training to the next level,” Vincent said. “My goal is 1:50 or 1:51, so I’m going to train harder than ever and go in with the right mindset of what it takes to run that fast and just get it done.”