May, 2014

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Route 66 Triathlon returns this weekend

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By Glen Miller,

When the idea of bringing a triathlon to El Reno was first pitched in 2005, there were a few skeptics which felt the city was not the right venue to sustain such an event for a long period of time.

However, there was one person who knew the city was the right fit from the start – organizer Steve Bussjeager of Mustang.

“It may be surprising to some, but I did. When I originally approached the city I told them this was not going to be a one and done event, but that we were here for the long term,” said Bussjeager.

This weekend the Route 66 Triathlon will celebrate its 10th running as one of four endurance events scheduled for the lake this year.

“That was the goal all along that this would be around for a while and here we are 10 years later, and while the event has expanded into some other events, we are still here,” said Bussjeager.

Three of the events fall under the Route 66 banner, while the fourth will come four months later. The first event was slated for Tuesday night, a youth aquathon, which is a split of swimming and running around LakeEl Reno.

Saturday morning will be the running of the popular Route 66 Sprint Triathlon. The event starts off with a 7:30 a.m. swim of 500 yards in LakeEl Reno.

Contestants transition into a 13-mile bike ride down “The Mother Road” before returning to the lake for the final stage – a 5-kilometer (3.1 mile run).

“Right now I’m expecting around 250,” said Bussjeager.

The event has served the past two seasons as the Oklahoma State Championship, but that event is being rotated on a two-year basis with a triathlon at ArcadiaLake, which Bussjeager also organizes under the Tri-OKC club.

El Reno native Ryan Ellis is expected to contend for the title along with triathlon phenom Mason Case, a 15-year-old from Oklahoma City.

“Ryan is going to be the frontrunner after scanning through all the entries I have so far. He won the Texas Man Triathlon last month, so he’s coming in here off a win,” said Bussjeager.

Sunday morning will bring several return racers from the sprint event to the signature race, the Route 66 Triathlon. The three-stage event, which follows Olympic distances, opens with a 7:30 a.m. open-water swim of 1,500-meters in LakeEl Reno.

Contestants emerge from the water into a 40-kilometer (25 mile) bike ride down Route 66, passing by the entrance to historic FortReno. The final stage is a 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) run around the lake. The event follows the same 5K route as the day before, but ran twice.

“The run course we enjoy today is not the same as we set up 10 years ago. You have to be flexible to pull off events like this,” said Bussjeager.

Last year’s event was stopped mid-race due to rain and lightening in the area. The leaders were on the bike course, while all the contestants were near the end of the swim portion.

“Mother Nature does what she wants and for the first time we had to cancel an event. We’ve had to delay some races before, and we had already made the decision to shorten it to sprint distances. Then we had people in the water and we had some lightening strikes so we had to cancel it,” said Bussjeager.

This year’s race is shaping up to be a battle with 2006 winner Chuck Sloan of Tulsa and Cache’s Scott Anderson on the men’s side. Sloan is a former OklahomaState cross country runner and recently stood on the platform at the Iron Man Hawaii as a placer in his age group.

On the women’s side, Slaon’s wife Jennifer Johnson will be a frontrunner along with Katrina Menard of Norman.

Johnson was also an Iron Man Hawaii placer, while Menard was the 2013 Southwest/Midwest regional champion. That title earned her entrance into the 2014 World Championships to be held in August in Edmonton, Canada.

“Chuck and Jennifer are two of the top amateur triathles in the country,” said Bussjeager.

The overall winner in the men’s and women’s division earn will earn entrance into the Best of the U.S. National Championships from the state of Oklahoma. Two past El Reno champions, Joanna Fiddler of Stillwater and Bethany Handley (now of Tennessee)) won the national championships.

“We’ve grown from a little over 100 people our first year to bringing 500 to 600 people in here for a two-day event. Add in the Tuesday night race and we have a week full of events. This really kicks off the multisport season for Oklahoma and is pretty much the first triathlon of the year,” said Bussjeager.

Both triathlon races this year come on the anniversary weekend of the deadly EF-5 tornado which ripped through CanadianCounty last year. Bussjeager watched the tornado roll in from the west while setting up for the Sprint race, which was suppose to take place a day later.

“Last year is still fresh in my mind and I’m sure it is in the minds of some of the people that were with me that night and had to take shelter. We’re all looking back at last year and know that this race will be on the anniversary date of the tornado hitting,” said Bussjeager.

The fourth race of the festivus comes in October with the 2014 National Aquathon Championship. That event is a 1,500-meter swim around the LakeEl Reno spillway,  followed by a 10-kilometer run.

“I’m really excited about this event. Right now we’re got 19 states represented and I’m thinking this will be the biggest event ever for USA Triathlon,” said Bussjeager.

The event also serves as a qualifier for the 2015 World Aquathon Championships to be held in Chicago.

Mustang has strong first week of spring

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By Patrick Osborne

Mustang football completed week one of spring football practice with plenty of positives, while still looking for more improvement.

With the first week in the books there was plenty to reflect on for the Broncos. This time last year Mustang football was still searching for its new football coach after Ty Prestidge skipped town for Choctaw. Spring practice was pushed back later in the year due to no coaching staff. Things seemed uncertain for Broncos football moving forward.

This year the Broncos have a full year under head coach Jeremy Dombek and his coaching staff that led them to a successful year and the second round of the playoffs.

Junior quarterback Chandler Garrett said this has been helpful for the team now that everyone is used to the new coaching staff and what they are expecting.

Garrett, a 6-foot-2 strong-armed hurler who’s increasingly gaining more attention from the college ranks, said the team was steadily improving throughout the week getting better each day.

“I think (Thursday) was one of the best practices as a whole for us,” he said.

With lots of positives and improvements from the week, senior receiver Zach Davis said there’s still lots of room to improve defensively and offensively.

“We’ve still got a lot more work to do,” Davis said. “Definitely have lots more improvement needed.”

Leadership out on the field is always important for any team to be successful and to get better on a daily basis. Both upperclassmen feel like they have stepped into the leadership role for this team, and Garrett also said this team has a lot of leaders along with them.

“We have a bunch of good senior leaders this year,” he said.

With another week of practice approaching as well as the spring game, Garrett said they are looking to get ready for team camp and clean things up for when other competition will make the trip to Mustang.

“We just have to keep giving effort,” Davis said. “The more effort we give the better we will be.”

Mustang will hold its annual spring game May 31 at Bronco Stadium at 9 am. The game will be the public’s first look at this year’s edition of Mustang football. Then July 6-8, Bronco Stadium will host team camp for outside schools as well as Mustang to compete against each other and grow as a team. Team camp will be open for the public.

Partnership ‘cleans up’ county

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Redlands Community College and Federal Bureau of Prisons El Reno recently teamed up for a grassroots program aimed at cleaning up sections of Canadian County.

As part of the 2014 Great American Cleanup, RCC and FCI El Reno worked on a cleanup of areas of El Reno, as well as along historic Route 66 west of that city. Great American Cleanup in Oklahoma was sponsored by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful and Devon Energy.

“The Federal Correctional Institution was happy to assist with the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful project,” said Joel Rogalsky, FCI public information officer. “Eight of our minimum security inmates and three staff members picked up trash and other debris on Route 66 from Reformatory Road west to Interstate 40.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with Redlands Community College and the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful project,” he said.

The Great American Cleanup is touted as the “nation’s largest grassroots community improvement program,” according to its website. Redlands President Jack Bryant said it was important for the college’s faculty, students and staff to take part in the effort.

“I am extremely proud of the students, faculty and staff that participated in the cleanup day,” he said. “We are glad to provide service opportunities that benefit our community.”

GAC is a “call to action” for communities to work toward beautification as well as green energy, recycling and other measures, said Jordan Scott, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful projects director.

“Service to the community is the ultimate demonstration that you love where you live,” Scott said. “Participating in the GAC can become the foundation for uniting Oklahomans in activities that create long-lasting effects.”

In 2013, more than 66,000 volunteers and participants took part in GAC events across Oklahoma, collecting 5.2 million pounds of litter and debris, along with cleaning 14,300 acres of parks, public lands and open spaces, Scott said.

Bronco baseball readies for summer season

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By Patrick Osborne

The Mustang baseball program is set for the summer baseball season and a chance to get better.

The Broncos will field three teams this summer – varsity 1 coached by Sean Brooks, varsity 2 coached by Cody Price, and freshmen coached by Jared Prock. The teams will play all of June and go until early July.

Head coach Scott Selby, who has already won 70 games in his first three seasons at Mustang, said he’s looking forward to the season and getting back out there on the field.

“We are looking to continue with the growth of the program and work on our fundamentals,” Selby said.

The summer season is generally a time of learning. It’s a chance for younger players to get more reps in games and for veterans to step into the leader role. Every game is another opportunity to get better and learn from mistakes with less pressure than found in the regular spring season.

Having multiple games every week, coaches have plenty of opportunities to see how players handle certain situations and use them to help players grow.

For those on the freshman team, this will be their first time to play at the Bronco Baseball Complex and get away from their Little League coaches and teams. Freshmen coach Jared Prock is looking to reach them early so that when fall comes around they can hit the ground running.

“I’m looking for them to start learning the program and how to be successful in it by learning how the two-strike approach works, how we bunt and really all our everyday stuff,” said Prock.

The Broncos will return most of their varsity team from last year that won 21 games, with only six seniors graduating this year after losing 16 the year before. Unlike this spring, they will bring back varsity experience at virtually every position this summer including Brice West, Austin O’Bannon, Skyler Fuller, John Madison, Brent Stephens, Cade Fulton, Ryan Reed, Jakob Webb, Austin Boyd, Harper Sanderson, Jake Deneen, Bryant Harper, Bobby Covalt, Trevor Kinsey and Joey Pena.

“We are sort of in a unique situation this year,” Selby said. “We don’t really have that one guy that jumps out at you right now. We are all looking to continue to improve and get better.”

Mustang loses seniors Austin Roberts, Lane Driskill, Logan Reed, Tyler Goble and Jeremy Bieber. Roberts will be the 16th player Selby has had move on to play college baseball.

With a home game nearly every day once the season starts as well as tournaments the Broncos will host, Mustang fans will have plenty of opportunities to see first the future of Mustang baseball now with their own eyes.

The Broncos have reached the regional championship game three years in a row since Selby arrived, and look to use this summer to learn and improve to get over the hump and reach the state tournament and compete for the program’s first state title since 1982 next spring.

Little League Complex a big hit in first season

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By Patrick Osborne,

The Mustang Little League baseball facility continues its progression toward finishing all minor details.

As the spring baseball season starts winding down, so too will construction and work around Mustang’s newest Little League facility. Mustang Parks and Recreations Director Justin Battles said overall he’s pleased with how things are going.

Starting the season with temporary bathrooms and concession stands is a good recipe for problems, but Battles said that hasn’t been the case with the new park.

“We really appreciate the community’s patience while we are finishing,” he said. “People genuinely seem excited to be out at the park.”

Battles said he expects the park to have its permanent bathrooms and concession area completed in late June or early July, depending on weather conditions, just in time for the fall baseball season.

The first-year park, opened in April, has also been coming along well with the new sod and playing surface, head groundsman Nick Bailey said.

“The fields are in great shape,” Bailey said. “This summer we are looking to treat the sod some more to keep them up and kind of clean things up.”

He also said the park is planning on adding trees around the park to provide more shade for players and parents enjoying the park. Currently there are no real areas of shade in or around the park for parents.

The move to the new park comes after generations of Mustang Little League baseball players playing at the much older and outdated facilities on 59th Street between Mustang Road and Czech Hall located just behind the city’s waste management plant.

The smell from the plant as well as outdated and rundown overused fields plagued the old baseball facility with numerous problems in its last years of use.

The new park is located behind the community center adjacent to the softball and soccer complexes, putting all the Mustang spring and summer sports in the same area.

Discovery yields 120 pounds of marijuana

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A Sunday check at a Canadian County truck stop ended with the discovery of about $650,000 in marijuana, officials said.

Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said deputies contacted a truck driver at TA Truck Stop, Morgan Road and Interstate 40, early Sunday. After “smelling the strong odor of marijuana coming from one of the vehicles on his car hauler,” deputies obtained the truck driver’s consent to search a 2013 Chevrolet Impala the man was hauling from Los Angeles to Memphis, West said.

“Once inside the vehicle, deputies quickly found several bundles of high grade marijuana that was concealed behind the car’s dashboard,” West said. He said they found about 120 pounds.

“It was everywhere – behind the dash, in the bumper, in the doors,” he said.

West estimated the marijuana’s street value at about $650,000.

After investigating the truck driver and the car itself, deputies determined the car was a rental and the truck driver – who was not identified – was not arrested or detained, West said.

Investigators have uncovered information concerning the individual who rented the vehicle and they expect to present a complaint to the Canadian County district attorney’s office “shortly,” West said.

“Until we have an arrest or charges, we won’t release any more information about what we’ve discovered, but we expect this to move pretty quickly,” he said.

Roberts competes in All-Star game

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By Kyle Salomon,

Mustang 2014 graduate Austin Roberts played in the Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association North-South All-Star baseball game May 22 at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.

The 2014 Bronco baseball player played six total innings out of the nine-inning game for the South All-Stars as they won the game 24-13 over the North All-Stars.

Roberts played four innings at shortstop and pitched two innings. Roberts had three at-bats in the game and went 1-for-3 with two runs scored in the contest.

On the bump, Roberts allowed one run on one hit and three walks while striking out two batters in his two innings of work.

Roberts competed in the East-West All-Star Game last Saturday afternoon at Owasso High School.

“It was a good experience,” Roberts said. “I play travel ball with a lot of the guys that I played with in that game. It was good to beat the guys from Yukon (they played for the North team). We had a lot of fun out there.”

Hobby Lobby gears up for June 9 grand opening

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Hobby Lobby will mark the opening of its 600th store during a June 9 grand opening in Yukon.

The 55,000-square-foot retail location is located just south of Interstate 40 on Garth Brooks Boulevard. Larry Loyall is store manager, Hobby Lobby officials said.

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, open to the public, is set for 9 a.m. June 9.

“Adding new jobs, generating sales tax and increasing foot traffic in new locations have allowed us to become an important part of the communities we join, while sharing in the growth of both the city and state. As we continue our nationwide expansion program, we look forward to giving customers an unparalleled shopping experience in the crafts and home decor market,” said John Schumacher, Hobby Lobby assistant vice president of advertising.

For more information about Hobby Lobby, visit the company’s website at www.hobbylobby.com.

 

Bronco grapplers close successful freestyle season

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By Patrick Osborne,

Mustang Freestyle wrestling posted strong individual finishes at state, with more looking toward the national stage.

Under the leadership of Brian Picklo and Brad Dick, the Broncos had a strong finish to the offseason wrestling year that started back in March just after spring break. The second-year program had 40 wrestlers come out this year and routinely had the most wrestlers at tournaments.

For those who aren’t in the wrestling program, Dick compared wrestlers competing in the Freestyle and Greco tournaments to football players competing in powerlifting competitions. The results and outcomes are different but the benefits are similar.

Mustang sent 26 grapplers to the regional tournament where all 26 placed fourth or better. Mustang sent 22 wrestlers to state and had another strong showing.

Here are the results:

In the Junior Freestyle 145-pound division, Jordan Kalmeyer, the lone senior on the team who was unable to attend practices due to work, placed fourth. In the Cadet Freestyle 132-pound division, Trey Edwards took second.

In the Cadet Freestyle 160-pound division, Marshall Mathews placed second. In the Cadet Freestyle 220-pound division, Austin Brown finished second.

In the Schoolboy Freestyle 91-pound division, Joseph Lupton placed fourth, and in the 175-division, Garrett Fly took second.

In the Greco Juniors 145-pound division, Kalmeyer was crowned state champion. In the Greco Juniors 160-pound division, Faizon Denby was also crowned state champion.

In the Greco Juniors 182-pound division, Dylan Watz placed fourth. In the Greco Cadet 120-pound division, Corbin Hardin finished in third place.

In the Greco Cadet 132-pound division, Tyler Joy finished second. In the Greco Cadet 138-pound division, Brock Ross took third.

In the Greco Cadet 220-pound division, Trey Cassey took second. In the Greco Schoolboy 91-pound division, Lupton finished in third, and in the 175-pound division, Fly was crowned state champion.

Overall, Dick was happy with the team’s performance.

“I was really proud of the guys,” he said. “They had a really good show.”

He went on to give all the credit to Picklo, saying he was the one teaching all the moves to the kids and running his program.

Picklo and Dick now turn their attention to June 1 when they will take four Mustang wrestlers to join the national Team Oklahoma wrestling team in Indianapolis. The team is made up of six coaches, two from Mustang, and 38 wrestlers from across the state.

Dick pointed out the fact that out of all 3A through 6A schools, only 38 wrestlers are picked, and of that Mustang has four. If Team Oklahoma finishes in the top eight in the nation, all four will be crowned All-Americans. Dick said the four have a good shot at becoming All-Americans.

Rowdy Jake Gray

Rowdy Jake Gray was born in Laguna Hills, Calif. on Aug. 23, 1994 to proud parents Rodney and Gayla Gray. Rowdy asked Jesus to come in his life and was baptized May 23, 2004 at Hazel Dell Baptist Church. Rowdy Jake went to be with his Lord Thursday, May 22, 2014 and was met by his grandparents Vernon and Wanda Gray of El Reno, Linda Perry of Oklahoma City and Judy Humphrey of Minco.

Rowdy Jake Gray

He is survived by his mom, dad and big sis, SPC Taylor Gray of Mustang; his grandpa Von, Levon Humphrey of Minco; grandparents Butch and Sue Ogilvie of Fort Cobb; grandpa Dean Perry of Oklahoma City; great grandparents Allan and Betty Moore of Cooperton; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends whom he loved greatly.

Rowdy moved to Mustang when he was just six months old, was a Mustang Bronco and graduated in 2013. Rowdy loved sports, fishing, and camping. He loved muddin’ and riding his quad out on the river.  He enjoyed working on the farm with his grandpa Von and was excited about fixing up his 1987 Mustang. He looked forward to the annual hunting trip with the Summers. He especially loved his buddy Lucky. When he laughed, it was with everything he had. He was not able to sit still for long and always had a friend ready to hang out.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 29 at The Bridge Assembly of God in Mustang, OK with interment following in the Sunny Hill Cemetery in Canadian County under the direction of McNeil’s Mustang Funeral Service. Online condolences may be made at www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.