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Piedmont Gazette Podcast, Copa America Edition

In the first ever Piedmont Gazette Podcast, sports editor Blake Colston, Piedmont head boys soccer coach Zac Selph and Gazette sports intern Daniel Smola talk about the United States’ 4-0 loss to Argentina, the NBA Finals/Draft and Selph’s dream of a Cubs World Series Title.

Coleman excited to be a Wildcat

Blake Colston

Only a few months removed from playing for a state title, Keith Coleman is on to the next challenge, and it’s a big one.

Muskogee coach Keith Coleman, right, consoles senior Shaylee Rowland after the Lady Roughers’ 13-12 loss to Southmoore in the semifinals of the Class 6A state softball tournament at the Ball Fields at Firelake in Shawnee last season.

Muskogee coach Keith Coleman, right, consoles senior Shaylee Rowland after the Lady Roughers’ 13-12 loss to Southmoore in the semifinals of the Class 6A state softball tournament at the Ball Fields at Firelake in Shawnee last season.

Hired last fall to take over Piedmont’s tradition-rich softball program, Coleman coached one last season at Muskogee High School this spring, leading the Lady Roughers slow pitch team to a runner-up finish in 6A.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go out at Muskogee,” he said.

Now, Coleman is officially a Wildcat.

“It’s been great. It’s kind of like I said through the spring, it was a really tough decision to leave Muskogee, but when I made the decision it gave me new life. Something about Piedmont kind of sparked my interest,” he said. “It’s a growing school district and a it’s team that’s been successful in the past.”

Coleman embraced the opportunity to take over for popular head coach Rick Scott then and has the same mindset now. The parents and coaches have been receptive. Read more →

Piedmont foursome takes part in 5A All-State soccer game

By Daniel Smola

CATOOSA – Piedmont’s Kylie Pyle, Julia Grimes, Kanton Logan and coach Brad Brucker represented the West in the 5A Girls’ and Boys’ All-State soccer matches at Frank McNabb Field on Friday night.

Blake Colston/Gazette Kanton Logan outruns a Woodward defender for the ball Friday night.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Kanton Logan outruns a Woodward defender for the ball Friday nightduring his senior season.

Brucker said being named the girls’ All-State coach meant a lot to him.

“To me, it was like the validation that everybody said ‘O.K. you guys are making that next step,’” Brucker said of Piedmont’s soccer program. “It really says more about where our program is than where, you know, I am as a coach. And I get to represent our program here in front of the whole state, so it meant a lot and it was a lot of fun.”

The girls’ match ended in a 1-1 draw. Pyle and Grimes got off to a fast start within the game’s first 5 minutes. The duo fired a handful of shots at goal that required saves from the East goalkeeper.

Pyle had a couple of 1-on-1 opportunities that were saved by the goalkeeper. The first chance came in the first half, as Pyle was played through and found herself alone in the penalty box. She attempted to bend the ball into the far corner around the East goalkeeper, but her shot was saved.

“I thought we did pretty good working as a team even though we didn’t really know the people,” Pyle said of the West’s performance despite not having much team chemistry. Read more →

Gossen pleased with Piedmont’s spring football performance

Blake Colston

Piedmont head football coach Drew Gossen had high praise for his team’s recently completed spring practice efforts._MG_5107[1]

“This is without question the best spring we’ve had since I’ve been in Piedmont,” said Gossen, who’s been the head coach at Piedmont for two years and on staff a total of six,

Chief among Gossen’s reasons for optimism was the play of the Wildcats offensive line. Last season, the group started two freshman by season’s end and struggled to play well consistently. This spring, however, Gossen saw a big jump in the unit’s productivity and depth.

Joseph Almaguer, C.J. McCaster, Bryce Johnston, Zach Moser, Cameron Coit, Caden Banks and Derek Grassman were all mentioned as possible starters by Gossen.

“Playing the young guys was hard for us last year, but it turns into a big positive for us this year,” he said. “The biggest improvement on the team this spring was along the offensive line. I really feel good about them.”

On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats morphed into a 3-4 defense by the end of last season due to injuries along the line, but this spring, Piedmont plans to play the 3-4 by design. Read more →

Taylor takes state title in the 110-meter hurdles

Blake Colston

MOORE — Ethan Taylor closed his high school track career in style Saturday at Moore High School.

Taylor set a new school record — breaking the record he held previously — in the 110-meter hurdles on his way to his first state championship. The senior ran the race in 15.07 to beat Jaquwan Blalock of Pryor who finished second in 15.29.

“I woke up Sunday and it felt like it had been so long since the race,” Taylor said. “It’s just starting to sink in a few days later.”

Taylor didn’t pull away until late in race, but knew he was a state champion immediately after it was over.

“They were ahead of me for the first couple hurdles, but towards the end I could feel that I had caught them and passed them,” he said. “When I finished I was so happy that all my hard work had paid off. I was smiling so hard. I thought to myself, ‘that actually just happened.'”

Impressively, Taylor only started to run the 110-meter hurdles competitively last season.

The only downside to the day for Taylor was not being able to pick up another state title in the 300-meter hurdles. Though he was favored to do so, Taylor clipped a hurdle near the turn into the final leg, fell to the ground and couldn’t recover. He finished eighth.

“It’s just unfortunate,” he said. “But whenever I won the 110s, I said anything else can happen and I’ll be happy.”

Taylor said a gust of wind near the back-half of the final curve threw him off enough to cause him to catch the hurdle.

“My steps were a little strange,” he said.

Taylor was set to compete in the Meet of Champions at Moore Tuesday.

On Friday, freshman Blake Cope placed fourth in the 3200-meter run.

“He’s only going to get better, too,” head coach Corey Strahorn said. “He rose to the occasion and had a strong finish. It comes with hard work and he has the body type for it, too.”

Strahorn said the goal he’s set for Cope before he leaves is to win a state title.

“He understands that, too,” Strahorn said.

Colton Lindsey finished 12th in the 3200.

Wortmann places sixth in 100-meter hurdles
Megan Wortmann placed sixth in the 100-meter hurdles, good enough to get her on the medal stand in her first-ever appearance at the state meet.

Much to her surprise, she said.

“I was actually about to cry because I didn’t think I made it,” she said. “It wasn’t my fastest race.”

Because she placed at state, Wortmann was set to take part in Tuesday’s Meet of Champions.

“She’s done a great job. She’s the kind of kid who battles at everything she does,” head coach Jon Bakewell said. “She knows what her goals are and she works her best to try to get to the next level.”

A total seven more Piedmont athletes — Kylie Burris, Sydnei Storts, Lydia Wade, Hannah Thomas, Josilyn Schenk, Anna Jacobs and Ashlyn Hamon — competed at state. All but one — Schenk who is moving to Canada — are set to return next season.

“Just to see them compete was big. Not only did they compete to get there, they worked hard once they were there,”Bakewell said. “It’s so exciting to see.”

Shawnee beats Piedmont to win its second straight state title

Blake Colston

YUKON — Shawnee pitcher Eli Davis sprinted off the mound to field a slowly hit ball near the third base line, spun and calmly threw to first base to strand the bases loaded.

Blake Colston/Gazette Brayden Nelson swings at a pitch during Saturday's state championship game in Yukon.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Brayden Nelson swings at a pitch during Saturday’s state championship game in Yukon.

The left-handed pitcher fielded his position perfectly all day, pitched seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and went 3 for 5 with an RBI to lead Shawnee to a 9-0 win over Piedmont in the Class 5A state championship game at Yukon’s Miller Field.

Shawnee (30-9) scored seven times after Davis kept Piedmont scoreless in the fifth. Then, he capped the Wolves’ five-run seventh inning that followed his slick fielding an inning later with a single to left field. Shawnee also scored twice in the sixth.

“I’ve seen that kid play for a few years now and he has that it factor,” Piedmont head coach Kory Williams said of Davis. “It was a big time environment and he stepped up and had a big game.”

Davis’ play on Koy Priddy’s chopper in the fifth gave Shawnee momentum it used down the stretch to win its second consecutive state title. Piedmont put just one batter on base against the University of Kansas commit in the final two innings. Read more →

Piedmont rallies to beat El Reno, advances to 5A title game

Blake Colston

YUKON — Piedmont’s Trevor Larson admitted to holding back tears as his teams’ hopes of reaching the state title game faded in the seventh inning Friday.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont's Ty Anderson delivers a pitch Friday afternoon in Yukon.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont’s Ty Anderson delivers a pitch Friday afternoon in Yukon.

“To be honest, I was about to start crying with my teammates,” the senior outfielder said.

Larson watched from the dugout as El Reno turned a 6-4-3 double play to come within an out of sealing a come-from-behind, 4-3, victory in a Class 5A semifinal at Yukon High School. Moments later, after a walk and a single, Larson collected the biggest hit of his career to tie the game at four to send Piedmont and El Reno to extra innings.

“Over the season I’ve been tight every time I’ve gone up to the plate in a situation like that,” Larson, who looped a single to center, said. “I was just trying to stay calm.”

Following the two-out rally, the Wildcats scored three times in the eighth and pitcher Ty Anderson worked a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning to give Piedmont a 7-4 win and a berth in the Class 5A State Title game vs. defending champion Shawnee at 4 p.m. Saturday in Yukon.

“What can you say about our guys battling back like that,” head coach Kory Williams said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Bryce McDermott, who walked to keep the game alive in the seventh, brought home the eventual game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Brayden Nelson followed McDermott’s walk with a single in the seventh and added an RBI-single in the eighth. With new-found confidence, Larson added an RBI-double to cap Piedmont’s eighth-inning rally.

Down to his, and Piedmont’s final strike against El Reno starter Ryan Kouba in the seventh, Nelson received added motivation from an unlikely source.

“I actually heard the umpire tell the catcher, ‘good luck in the next round,’ and that kind of made me mad,” Nelson said. “I said, you know what, I’m gonna go get a base hit.”

He did, setting the stage for Larson who entered the pressure-packed at-bat hitting .255 on the season.

“We have faith in everyone in our order,” Nelson said. “It’s someone new everyday. Everyone is coming up clutch these days. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Trevor came through.” Read more →

Piedmont track sends 15 to state meet

Blake Colston

Piedmont will be well represented at the Class 5A State Track and Field meet set to be held today and Saturday at Moore High School.

The Lady Wildcats qualified a total of eight athletes while the boys had seven qualify at the regional meet at Yukon High School last week, led by regional champion 110-meter hurdler Ethan Taylor, and Blake Cope who won the 1600 and 3200-meter runs at regionals.

For the Lady Wildcats, Ashlen Hamon was a pleasant surprise in the 400-meter dash, taking second in 1:01.92 to become the highest placer at regionals.

Taylor favored to win state for boys
Ethan Taylor is the lone senior on Piedmont’s roster this season, and if his times hold form, he’ll go out in style.

Taylor won regionals with a 15.31, almost a second ahead of second place Dylan Portillo of Guymon.

Photo Provided Pole vaulter Davis McDermott competes at regionals in Yukon last weekend.

Photo Provided
Pole vaulter Davis McDermott competes at regionals in Yukon last weekend.

Taylor was expected to win the 300-meter hurdles as well, but caught his foot on the first hurdle and tumbled to the ground. Taylor made a remarkable recovery to finish third and qualify for state.

“He was in seventh place right off the bat,” head coach Corey Strahorn said. “So he’s got that out of his hat now.”

Taylor’s time projects him as a state champ in the 300 and could challenge for the 110-meter title, assuming her performs up to par.

“I’ve told him to stick with his routine and stay humble,” Strahorn said of the advice he’s given Taylor about handling his role as the favorite. “There aren’t a lot of things I have to remind him of. He’s mentally extremely strong.”

Taylor also makes up a leg of the mile relay team that qualified for state. Running with Taylor are Jacob Storts, Jeff Gaines and Davis McDermott.

McDermott will also compete in the pole vault.

Cope, and Colton Lindsey, who took second in the two-mile run and third in the mile at regionals, will each compete in both events at state.

Junior 200-meter sprinter Michael Williams is Piedmont’s final qualifier. Williams ran a 23.11 at regionals, good for fourth and only 0.7 seconds off of a school record.

“If we had a most-improved athlete this season, it would be Michael Williams,” Strahorn said. “Based upon where he’s started and how he’s grown physically and mentally — he’s done a great job.”

Hamon surprises in 400-meter dash
Piedmont head girls track and field coach Jon Bakewell had a good feeling about how Ashlen Hamon would perform at regionals.

As it turned out, Bakewell’s hunch was dead on. Hamon ran her best race of the season to finish second in the 400-meter dash in a time of  1:01.92 and qualify for her first state tournament.

Blake Colston/Gazette Freshman Sydnei Storts runs at the conference meet at Western Heights.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Freshman Sydnei Storts runs at the conference meet at Western Heights.

“She did great. I felt like she could, it was just a matter of her doing it and she did,” Bakewell said.

Sophomore Josilyn Schenk, meanwhile, qualified for her second state tournament in as many years with a third place finish in the 800-meter run.

“I expected it of her, but she did a great job,” he said.

A pair of Piedmont’s relay teams will run at Moore, too. The Lady ‘Cats’ 4 X 400 relay team of Kylie Burris, Lydia Wade, Megan Wortmann and Anna Jacobs qualified as an at-large. The 4 X 800 team of Hannah Thomas, Sydnei Storts, Burris and Schenk also made the cut via the at-large path.

Burris also qualified in the high jump while Wortmann made state in the 100-meter hurdles and narrowly missed the cut in the 300-meter hurdles.

All eight girls are set to return to the team next season.

“It’s great to bring a group of kids and be competitive,” Bakewell said. “

Piedmont beats Skiatook in Class 5A state quarterfinal

Blake Colston

YUKON — Piedmont pitcher Brayden Nelson likes to finish what he starts on the baseball diamond.

Blake Colston/Gazette Koy Priddy, left, congratulates Brayden Nelson after the final out was made in Piedmont's 5-2 win over Skiatook Thursday in Yukon.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Koy Priddy, left, congratulates Brayden Nelson after the final out was made in Piedmont’s 5-2 win over Skiatook Thursday in Yukon.

So when head coach Kory Williams suggested he might pull Nelson in the fifth inning of Thursday’s Class 5A state quarterfinal vs. Skiatook at Yukon High School, Nelson told Williams no way.

“He told me ‘you’re not pulling me out of this game'” Williams said.

“It was my game to win or lose,” said Nelson.

Nelson got his way and rewarded Williams’ trust with a complete game seven-hitter to go with four strikeouts to lead Piedmont to a 5-2 win over Skiatook and on to the 5A semifinals where they’ll face either El Reno or Pryor in Yukon Friday at 4 p.m.

In his last five outings, Nelson has pitched four complete games. Since April 5, the Oklahoma Wesleyan signee has allowed just two earned runs.

“It was another gutsy performance by Brayden,” Williams said.

With a run already home in the fifth to cut Piedmont’s lead to 4-2, Skiatook mounted its best rally of the game.

The Bulldogs put runners on second and third with two outs for Billy Beyen, who lined a hard-hit ball bound for center field back toward the mound. Nelson knocked the ball down, though, maintained his composure as it rolled a few feet away to his right, then picked it up and threw to first to end the inning. Read more →

Piedmont baseball opens state tournament vs. Skiatook

Blake Colston

In the span of two months, Piedmont baseball lost Trevin Michael and Jacob Henson — two of its top four pitchers.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont dog piles after beating Ardmore 7-0 to advance to the state tournament.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont dog piles after beating Ardmore 7-0 to advance to the state tournament.

But rather than crater, the Wildcats catapulted. They rode pitchers Brayden Nelson and Ty Anderson to a district title and a regional championship.

Now, PHS is three victories from its first state championship in school history. The Wildcats (26-12) open the Class 5A State Tournament vs. Skiatook (21-10) Thursday at 1:30 at Yukon High School.

“We could’ve done this or that after those guys went down, but the way the guys stepped up, it was just next man up,” head coach Kory Williams said.

Nelson and Anderson have been at the forefront of the surge. Both have ERA’s under three (Nelson 2.16, Anderson 2.29) and have combined to allow just 11 earned runs in their last 71 innings pitched.

“Our guys have confidence with both of them because they’re in the strike zone,” Williams said. “They’re confident  they’ll keep us in every game.”

Nelson will get the ball against the Bulldogs Thursday having allowed just two earned runs in his last 38 2/3 innings pitched. Most recently, Nelson won two games in three days including a winner-take-all regional title game vs. Ardmore in which he pitched a complete game shutout. Read more →

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