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Mustang group making name for itself through track and field acumen

Members of the OK FLASH TRACK CLUB sit in the bleachers for a team photo during a recent practice at the Mustang High School football stadium. (Photo by Jacob Sturm)

By Jacob Sturm

It only takes a few moments of being around the OK FLASH TRACK Club to see distinct
personalities expressed all toward a common goal.

This past Saturday that common goal paid dividends for 10 athletes hard work over the summer
with a trip to Des Moines for the 2023 AAU National Junior Olympics. Those 10 athletes (Jaylin
VonWald, Emily Cloutier, CarVelle Jones, Kaitlyn Nelson, Kiara Smith, Lauren Coleman, Kaileigh
VonWald, Haley Cloutier, Mezmariah Lewis and Xavier Harper) were out preparing on the
Mustang track ahead of the trip on Tuesday evening.

A high number of participants shows a strong mark of improvement for the three-year-old club
that started with seven members and increased to 30 the next year. This summer, the club has
topped out at 50 athletes with an expectation for another large increase next year.

That success starts with Jaylin VonWald, who is in her second year as a member of the club
under coach Omar Jones. VonWald currently is the 6A State Champion in the 300-meter
hurdles, and has taken the summer program up a notch following some convincing from Jones
this past year.

“She’s a really humble person.” Jones said. “… She works hard. She’s very coachable, and so
we’re working on getting her to the next level.”

VonWald’s interest piqued at the excitement of athletes competing in track and field events she
attended as a young kid, placing her on a path to the success she is reaping now.

Having grown up in Pryor, VonWald’s family moved to the Mustang area, which proved to be
invaluable for the OK FLASH TRACK Club success.

“When I started Track and Field, I was in the 7 th grade,” VonWald said. “I started my 7 th grade
year, and then 8 th grade was COVID, so we didn’t have it that year. But then to start for AAU, I
started last summer… Whenever I moved here and I started to practice with them, the chief
(Omar Jones) came and asked me if I wanted to do AAU track with them.”

From there on, it has been off to the races.

The summer program got started the Monday following state championships, and held the first
race of the summer on June 3. VonWald earned district champion honors, then advanced and
won the regional champion honor (consisting of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri
teams) and is seeded in the Top 25 going into the national’s competition.

Jones can attest that not many competitors have given VonWald challenges, and that was on
display in Dallas where the club made its first trip to the Lone Star state and competed well
against ramped up competition.

“I feel like for me, it (the trip to Dallas) kind of brought up a lot more (nerves),” VonWald said.
“I was nervous about it because I was like ‘ok, there’s going to be a lot more competition out
here with these girls,’ which it was…”

The experience also showed how she compared to many athletes from bigger schools.

One standout motivation for VonWald competing is also tied in to her sibling’s success.
VonWald’s sister is doing 4×4 and shorter sprint races, while her brothers are doing AAU for the
first time and are competing in 80-meter hurdles and 800-meter hurdles, respectively.

Jones also has been impressed with her ability to jump in and help teammates advance in other
competitions, even the ones VonWald did not intend to focus on heading into the competitions.
Ahead of the Nationals competition, the event which happened this past weekend in Iowa,
Jones elaborated on the expectations he had for the Mustang athletes on the big stage.

“My expectations (are to) get there and compete,” Jones said. “That’s all really. If we pick up
something else along the way, so be it. I just want them to get there and compete to the best of
their abilities.”

“…I’m excited that we’re in a position to take 10 kids to Nationals,” Jones said.

Another standout for Mustang’s contingent of athletes is Emily Cloutier, a senior pole vault
competitor who qualified for Nationals in pole vaulting, long jump and 4×4 relay.

Cloutier, who had been dedicated to soccer to start high school, moved to the program and has
thrived. When she saw some pole vaulting, the feat sparked interest and from there the success

“It actually never crossed my mind (as a sport option),” Cloutier said. “I was a sprinter and I was
just trying out long jump and my coach, she recently found out that I was a gymnast. So, she
made me try it and I ended up really liking it a lot.”

Couple the interest with the outcome, and Cloutier has an enjoyable investment to progress.
She spends about two hours working on the skill each day, while perfecting technique during
each attempt about 2-3 minutes apart.

Cloutier also started pole vaulting in the program halfway through last season, and went into
track for the first time as a Junior.

Jones said Cloutier broke the school record in the pole vault in her first year attempting the
event. That success has continued into the summer, where she has skyrocketed into ninth place
in Nationals seeding.

Kaitlyn Nelson has also been a standout in the program. Nelson, who is going into her
sophomore year, qualified in two events and gave a few events a try with plenty of success.
Jones said her success in the 4×4 was a surprise for the coaches, and she has been an anchor on
the event team since starting.

Then there is CarVelle Jones, who has been working on the Decathlon as an athlete planning to
compete along with a slew of other events. CarVelle earned a silver medal in the long jump in
the state, and advanced to Nationals in Decathlon.

CarVelle started as strictly a hurdler, but had extra encouragement in his journey which led him
to giving the Decathlon a shot and has led to him carving out success from the work.

“I promise you, in the middle of the summer I did not think I was doing the Decathlon because I
was still just running my regular events at our regular meets,” CarVelle Jones said.

Then came the success at the local event meet at Yukon, which helped bring the enjoyment to
the event for Jones to focus on.

Omar Jones expects CarVelle to compete for some honors in future competitions due to his
work in the event this summer.

CarVelle hoped the program continues to build even beyond his upcoming senior year. He said
the perception of Track and Field in Mustang can be changed through winning, which the
program has done extremely well recently. That includes the first boys’ regionals title won this
past year, and has seen the program break 13 records with the current group of athletes.

“It’s a great program,” CarVelle Jones said. “We’ve got good athletes. We’ve got good coaches,
good incoming coaches. We’ve got a good coaching staff here. It’s a good place. We take
everybody who wants to run. If you want to run, we’ll take you.”

Cloutier reiterated a similar sentiment.

“This program is by far my favorite athletic program that I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve done
plenty of sports,” Cloutier said. “The whole team is just so welcoming and they treat you like
family. It’s really nice, and everybody is always so supportive of each other. So, that’s definitely
something that I love about this sport. I’ve never really had the amount of support surrounding
me that I do in this sport… It feels real and you can feel the love from everybody around you.”

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