South Metro Standard Magazine March 2024

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Jaguars, Lions & Sabercats Spring Sports Preview South Metro Eats Crimson Melt The REF 68 Team Giveaway STANDARD March 2024 • Issue 3 • Volume 1 SOUTH METRO YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY MAGAZINE

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mark Doescher MANAGING EDITOR Lindsay Cuomo PHOTOGRAPHY Mark Doescher CONTRIBUTORS Roxanne Avery | Lindsay Cuomo Chelsey Koppari | Chris Plank T. J. Turner | Tim Willert ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Trevor Laffoon - Perry Spencer - Tanner Wright - PUBLISHER Casey Vinyard South Metro Standard Magazine 2020 E. Alameda Norman, Oklahoma 73071 Phone: (405) 321-1400 E-mail: Copyright © 19th Street Magazine Any articles, artwork or graphics created by 19th Street Magazine or its contributors are sole property of 19th Street Magazine and cannot be reproduced for any reason without permission. Any opinions expressed in 19th Street are not necessarily that of 19th Street management. MARCH CONTENTS ISSUE 3– VOLUME 1 2024 what’s inside on the cover 12 Moore Lions 30 South Metro Eats Crimson Melt 36 Empowering Students Moore Public Schools is committed to inclusion and transition success. 12 Southmoore Sabercats 26 Westmoore Jaguars 22 SOUTH METRO STANDARD NMotion Norman Regional’s revolutionary approach to fitness and wellness. 40 40 Years of Sooner Bowl Looking back at four decades of family fun. 38 Remebering Toby Keith A true Oklahoma Sooner and iconic country music legend 16 Prep Sports Previews
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Special education services to meet students’ needs take diverse forms, from therapies and varied classroom strategies to real-word experiences. While specific approaches vary throughout the country, local parents attest to the commitment of Moore Public Schools’ offerings for families of children with special needs.

Lori Wathen is the parent of Reis, a senior with Down syndrome, who will be graduating from Southmoore this year.

“MPS has given Reis every opportunity and support to be an independent, contributing member of our community,” said Wathen. “He has received amazing services, including speech, occupational and physical therapy, but also extracurriculars and opportunities that make the difference.”

An increasing number of programs and professionals help meet families where they are as children grow. One in six children ages 3 to 17 experience developmental disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investing in public education to meet special needs has made critical resources more available throughout the country. Moore Public Schools’ Director of Special Services Kim Heard, Ed. D, BCBA/L, has worked with the district for more than 17 years between her time in the classroom and in administration.

“Public schools are mandated by IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Act] and the State Department of Education to provide free evaluation and

services to students within the boundaries of the district,” said Heard. “Having a child with special needs who does not yet have interventions underway can present a series of challenges. Parents and caregivers may be unaware of the options available to them through the district as young as age 3.”

In fact, Heard recommends reaching out to Sooner Start from birth to age 3 so meetings can be held prior to that critical third birthday.

“We work closely with that state agency so a plan is in place, and we can get started the day they turn 3,” said Heard of early intervention access. “The child can be evaluated to assess their level of need. If there are significant disabilities, we would start right away with Pre-K hours at age 3.” Intervention is available for school-age children throughout their academic career.

“If parents or adults are concerned, they can reach out to their school’s principal or school psychologist. Testing may be the next step to see if they qualify,” said Heard. “There is a school psychologist assigned to every Moore school who will look at the child’s case history, from birth to now, consider any outside diagnosis the child has and go from there. It often begins with the parent reaching out and asking.”

Out of more than 24,000 students enrolled in Moore Public Schools, nearly 5,000 meet the criteria for special needs services.

A range of intensity of services is available, from

12 | March 2024
Moore Public Schools is committed to inclusion and transition success

self-contained instruction for medically fragile children to participation within the school’s general population. All services are individualized depending on the needs of the student.

“Many families move here to access our services. We have more than 50 self-contained functional classrooms and 500 special education professionals,” said Heard. “We really strive at MPS to serve the children where they are. We prefer to move the services to the child. The majority have services of their own at school, which allows them to stay alongside their peers to build community.”

All 35 MPS school locations currently have an occupational and physical therapist and at least one speech language pathologist, in addition to special education teachers and paraprofessionals. MPS special education teachers earn 10% above general education pay, which is double the stipend amount paid by most other Oklahoma districts.

“Moore is one of the districts in the state where we have an entire BCBA team, board certified behavior analysts to assist teachers and paraprofessionals to teach kids with autism or challenging behaviors,” said Heard. “Our staff is amazing, and we are proud of how they meet a variety of needs every day.”

Heard recognizes the tremendous impact those school communities have on children, families and the people who surround them and Wathen agrees. “Southmoore has been so supportive with Reis and with other students, encouraging us parents to get out of our comfort zones to do additional things,” she said. “He has done Tech Now, which has a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus applied through car races where students do the graphics and everything, design and assemble their cars and go to a state competition. He’s done cheerleading

every year. We’ve had music therapy and Moore FFA. Reis has participated in the summer and winter Special Olympics in Stillwater with his classmates giving him a huge sendoff.”

When completing enrollment for students with special needs, Heard recommends parents go online and enroll through the MPS website just as they would for any student and then phone administration to discuss additional needs. Getting acquainted with staff is an ideal first step.

“There is a misperception that private schools have better services,” Heard explained. “But, in general, public schools receive more funding and we have laws that mandate us to provide services.”

A new transition program will allow Reis to return for the 2024-2025 school year as part of the Oklahoma Alternate Assessment Program, which offers an alternate diploma.

“What that does is afford students like my son the ability to continue attending school for one more year,” said Wathen. “I feel these transition services are so important because they will allow students to build upon their skills as they navigate changes and opportunities.”

The recent passage of a bond issue for college and career readiness allowed the installation of a coffee bar where students can work, including those with special needs. Southmoore’s cafe was completed at the end of 2023.

“Now, because of the alternate diploma program, students like Reis can work there,” said Wathen. “That transitional year will also include time in a functional skills classroom. There is also the opportunity to work in the cafeteria, at office jobs and maybe in horticulture on the grounds of the school. They were able to hire a transition teacher and two job coaches. This is tremendous for our students.”

Her hope for Reis is additional employment opportunities along with post-secondary opportunities especially for students with special needs.

“Reis likes to give hugs across the counter,” she said. “We need people like that in our communities, too.”

MPS is currently hiring certified special education teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech/language pathologists and paraprofessionals. To learn more about employment opportunities, visit– SMS

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Remembering Toby Keith

16 | March 2024 COMMUNITY
A True Oklahoma Sooner and Iconic Country Music Legend

With 20 songs reaching the top spot in the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, Toby Keith’s album sales surpassed 40 million sold. Songs like Red Solo Cup, How Do You Like Me Now, Should’ve Been a Cowboy and As Good As I Once Was have cemented Keith in the minds and hearts of people all over the world.

When he passed away on Feb. 5 after a hard-fought battle against cancer, his loss left an irreplaceable void in the country music community and the state of Oklahoma.

Beyond the music and the stage, Toby Keith was much more than just an entertainer. He was a devoted husband, a loving father, a true philanthropist, and of course, a die-hard, tried-and-true Oklahoma Sooner fan. While his impact and loss are felt all across the world because of his music, in Oklahoma his passion for the Sooners and the impact he made on the Sooner nation goes well beyond any song.

After his passing, tributes poured in. University President Joseph Harroz sent out a campus-wide e-mail to magnify the impact that Toby Keith had on the University.

“As a lifelong Sooner, Toby’s passion for the crimson and cream made him a cherished figure within Sooner Nation, where he proudly shared his love for the university and its community,” Harroz wrote. “Personally, I will miss Toby’s laughter, warmth and everlasting love for the University of Oklahoma.”

Head coach Brent Venables took to social media posting on Twitter, “We are all better for knowing Toby…An amazing man who gave to so many. RIP brother. All love & prayers for his family.”

Athletic Director Joe Castiglione shared his sentiments as well, “Can’t believe we lost our dear, personal friend, Toby Keith. Filled with deep sadness but flooded with wonderful memories, too. He was as authentic as they come and did more for people than anyone will ever know. Please (pray) for his entire family. Rest high on that mountain, Big T.”

Keith left his mark on the Oklahoma Sooners as more than just someone who wanted tickets or to be on the sidelines. He was in-

grained in all things Oklahoma Sooners. And it wasn’t just football. If there was an event involving the Sooners, he likely was there.

“We know that he was an amazing fan of the Oklahoma Sooners, every sport, he was at them all,” Castiglione said. “Bowl games, final fours, the championship games, he found his way there along with his family. The athletes got to see him in a different light. They had a comfort level going up and talking to him, getting surprised because he knew more about them than they ever realized.”

Even after hitting it big and with everything based in Nashville, Keith still came back to his Oklahoma roots.

“He wanted to raise his family back in Oklahoma and it allowed him to be himself,” Castiglione said. “People know who you are, they allow you to be yourself. That’s one of the unspoken characteristics of Oklahoma. You can be on top of the world and be grounded in the red dirt.”

As the tributes and stories were shared, the genesis of Keith’s passion for the Oklahoma Sooners was perhaps best explained in his daughter Krystal.

“My dad started selling cokes at 12 or 13 years old in the stadium so he could see the games live,” she shared on social media. “We have traveled as a family with the teams to bowl games and championships as long as I can remember. Planning weddings, vacations and big life events around team schedules. He bled crimson and it’s genetic.”

Keith had a special relationship with so many within the Sooner family, but perhaps no one was closer to Keith than Bob Stoops.

“He meant so much to so many because they meant so much to him,” Bob Stoops said in an interview with Sellout Crowd. “The loyalty he had was incredible. He was tough and witty. I don’t know if I ever saw him mad.

“He was a calm, good strong person. A great Christian. He had a tough persona, but he was a gentle giant and was good to everyone.”


Keith’s smash hit How Do You Like Me Now served as somewhat of a theme for the National Championship 2000 Football team.

“That song was popular when I got to OU in 1999, and in 2000 we won the title. I had a bunch of guys who weren’t looked upon real great when I walked in there,” Stoops said. “Toby (sang) How Do You Like Me Now when we (had) the celebration in the stadium.”

Keith loved the Sooners, but he also loved to perform. You just never knew when or where that performance would take place.

“Anytime you were out with Toby, it wasn’t a matter of if he was going to get up and sing, it was when. It didn’t matter what the joint was, or who the guy was singing, or what the genre was, he could get up and do it,” Bob Stoops added. “Big T could sing the blues, rock and roll, whatever it was.

“I’ve seen him with Sammy Hagar, and he fits right in. That was him. That was his joy. He loved to entertain. He loved to sing. He was so talented. He knew the lyrics to everything. He had that way about him. Whoever it was, they were happy to have him join in.”

One of the last times, Oklahomans got to see Keith perform was an impromptu concert during the celebration with the Oklahoma Sooner softball team after winning its third straight National Championship. Despite his health battles, Keith was a constant at the WCWS games in Oklahoma City, helping to cheer the Sooners on to victory. And when it was time to celebrate, he was front and center.

Keith already had a strong relationship with the softball program and head coach Patty Gasso, but that moment on the stage in June of 2023 will never be forgotten.

“Above and beyond, we just want to honor him,” Gasso said. “It’s hard to talk about, he’s been great, his family has been phenomenal. He and his family are just lovers of our sport.

“I was looking back at our text thread, Toby and I, he had named one of his racehorses after us. He named it Seven Natty Patty. He would text and give me updates on how Seven Natty Patty was doing. It was quite an honor that he would think of me and this program that way. Man is he going to be missed.”

Gasso also highlighted Keith’s global impact.

“It’s amazing that one life could have such an impact on so many people,” she said. “Whether it’s just his heart, his music or his generosity, he’s a phenomenal man and that’s a phenomenal family.”

Days after Keith passed, OU and BYU squared off in a massive game at the Lloyd Noble Center. The seat usually occupied by Keith was set as a tribute with a guitar, an Oklahoma Sooner hat and, of course, a red solo cup. The Sooners picked up a much-needed win and Sooner coach Porter Moser paid tribute the only way he knew how with a red solo cup.

“He is everything you want to be about. He’s Sooner Nation,” Moser said. “To all of his friends around the country, in the music industry, in the sports world, friends in all different things, today we raise a glass to Toby Keith. I wish there was something different than water in this glass right now because he is a true legend, a true friend to everybody.

“I just want to say our guys played their hearts out for Toby Keith tonight to get this win, and I know he was looking down on us tonight.”

During the Bedlam match-up the following weekend, every drink in the arena was served in a red solo cup. At halftime, both Sooner and Cowboy fans in attendance raised their red solo cups and sang along in an emotional and fitting tribute.

The impact that Keith had on so many lives probably could not be truly understood or felt until you read the tributes and saw the outpouring of support.

“We’re going to be talking about Toby Keith for the rest of our lives,” Castiglione said. “We can talk about the global icon he was and how we related to his music. It’s a songbook to our life and the songs reflected what a lot of people were thinking… he was our voice in a lot of ways.

“You can talk about his iconic career, and I think people are realizing just how big his career was… What he did behind the scenes, how many shows he did in the Middle East and at military bases, but you don’t see what he did behind the scenes. He didn’t do it for attention.”

“If anybody in our American culture needs to be made an example of, he needs to be right up there,” Sooner legend Brian Bosworth added. “If you look around the world and ask people from other countries what America really looks like, it looks like Toby Keith, it sounds like Toby Keith, acts like Toby Keith.”

Big Dog Daddy, TK, Big T, Captain America, whatever name you use for Toby Keith, there is no denying that he was as real and authentic as he could possibly be. He loved his family, he loved his music, he loved his country, and he loved his Sooners.– BSM

18 | March 2024
Rylie Boone

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The Westmoore Jaguars are eager for the first pitch of the 2024 baseball season after a 2023 campaign which ended with a quarterfinal exit against Enid.

Head coach Brian Hunnicutt has a great deal of confidence in the group as opening day gets closer.

“We have a great group of young men,” said Hunnicutt. “They are really fun to coach and watch play the game of baseball.”

If the Jaguars are going to have success, they must figure out their pitching rotation since they lost pitchers who threw a lot of innings last year.

“Our biggest question mark coming into the season is our pitching,” said Hunnicutt. “We have seniors who are ready for their turn and some younger guys that are stepping up and showing that they can go compete.”

Hunnicutt’s expectations for the Jaguars are not all that surprising, which is to win their district and the state tournament. A tough task that Hunnicutt believes his boys can achieve if they go about things the right way.

“We want to be great at what we can control,” said Hunnicutt. “We want to learn to embrace the grind, love each other through adversity, learn to serve and sacrifice for each other and learn to never quit no matter the situation.”

There are several players whom Jaguars fans should keep an eye on this season - seniors Connor Cavnar, Tanner Fallwell, Deacon Frazee, Gage Geiger and Bradley Ruby, junior Jacob Wehba and sophomore Josiah Kemp. Lions’ fans might recognize Kemp’s last name and rightfully so as he is the cousin of three-time MLB All-Star Matt Kemp.

Spring Sports Preview

Westmoore will face a tough Class 6A District 2 as well as some of the best out-of-state talent this season.

“Our whole schedule is a grind,” said Hunnicutt. “District games will be tough, and we’ll play some of the better teams in the state and nation in some tournaments.”


Westmoore enters the 2024 golf season with high hopes. Both the boys’ and girls’ programs have enough returners to back up that confidence.

The boys have three returning starters, including se-

22 | March 2024
Connor Cavnar

Jaycie Daggs

nior Cale Orman, who qualified for State last year. The other two are seniors Caleb Mackerelle and Hudson Walters. Those three look to lead the way as they have secured the No. 1, 2 and 3 bags.

“Caleb and Hudson have tournament experience and their game has really come a long way,” said boys’ head coach Bobby Brock.

Bags No. 4 and 5 are up for grabs, but Brock believes they will be snatched up soon.

“Our young golfers will be filling those positions,” said Brock. “Sophomores Griffin Gappa and Jordan Masters look to make an impact on the 4- and 5-bag spots.”

Brock has a young roster, but still maintains the same goal which is to take the entire team to State.

The girls will be looking to reload after losing two exceptional golfers to graduation.

“We graduated two outstanding All-State golfers last year in Jaeya Mathis and Mimi Hoang,” said girls’ head coach Lori Reed. “They left some big shoes to

fill, but we have a lot of talent and potential on our present team.”

Two seniors who could step up this season are Laci Fravert and Makayla Been.

Reed is excited about the experience this team has and for the new additions who will grow under her tutelage.

“I hope the girls continue to grow in their knowledge and love of the game,” said Reed. “I can’t wait to see the confidence in their abilities grow as well.”


Westmoore is ready to begin the 2024 slow-pitch softball season after a gritty 2023 year where the Jaguars fought their way to State but lost in the first round to Mustang.

The 2023 season was an up-and-down year for the Jags and head coach Hillary Weaver is looking for a bit of stability going forward.

“Last year, consistency was a problem for us as a team,” said Weaver. “This year, we hope to be more consistent base hitters and also be able to hit to all parts of the field consistently.”

Weaver acknowledges last year had its struggles but feels as if her team has prepared well for the upcoming season.

“This team works extremely hard and has great team chemistry,” said Weaver. “They have been working in the weight room, getting stronger, and it is beginning to show in their swings and arm strength on the field.”

Westmoore did lose a significant player to graduation, but Weaver believes her squad can make a collective effort to achieve its goals.

“We know if we do the little things right, are good teammates, and remain consistent - if we do all those things - we have a shot to end up back at the state tournament at the end of the season,” said Weaver.

Two Jaguars for fans to watch as the season unfolds are senior Kylah Daniel and junior Jordyn Moody.

Westmoore has a fairly young roster and any of them could be called upon at any point during the season.

“This team is young,” said Weaver. “Half of the roster is made up of talented freshmen and sophomores, so we are excited to see what they will bring to the table.”



Westmoore enters the 2024 boys soccer season with high hopes after a successful 2023 campaign where the Jaguars lost in the first round of State to Edmond Memorial. Head coach Joe Shepard feels confident about his Jaguars despite losing a couple of core players to graduation.

“We returned a lot of players this year,” said Shepard. “We lost some key players in the midfield and defense, but feel like we have the players to fill those gaps.”

If the Jaguars are able to make a deeper push into the playoffs, Shepard believes the experience gained last spring can help the group get over the hump.

“We had a pretty good season last year,” said Shepard. “We came up short at the playoffs, but it’s something we can learn from.”

One area the Jaguars have not had any problems with is their dedication to being their best.

“This team has a never-ending commitment to being a good team both on and off the field,” said Shepard. “The team is excited for the season and has put in a lot of work.”

Fans can expect the 2024 Jaguars to be led by a strong group of seniors - Jaxson Lee, Tristan Herrera, Miguel Felix and Julio Villatoro.

Westmoore’s girls team looks to dominate the 2024 season with a suffocating defense which led to a productive 2023 year. The team fell short in the first round of the state tournament to Yukon.

While defense played a large role last season, but they are going to need more if they want to make a deep run into the playoffs.

“I would like to see more on the offensive side of the ball,” said head coach Caitlin Radford. “We focused a lot on defense last year and still do but we would like to see more goals scored.”

Focusing on areas of improvement can be difficult, but Radford has no doubts regarding her teams’ talents.

“We have an eager team that strives to get better every day,” said Radford. “They don’t shy away from any challenge.”

Westmoore will need to replace leadership lost to

graduation. Radford is looking at a couple of returners to fill the void. Senior defender Jaycie Daggs has plenty of experience which gives Radford confidence for the season.

“We’re looking to use Jaycie’s leadership and skill in several areas of the field this season,” said Radford.

The Jags are going to be looking at younger talent to step up this year. Sophomore forward Jenna Munson has shown plenty of promise and Radford believes she is up to the challenge.

“Jenna is a strong attacker, and we look forward to seeing her shine this year,” said Radford.

With the help of these two, Westmoore could achieve its season goals.

“We want to defend the ‘City Champs’ title and win district games,” said Radford.


Westmoore has one of the best high school tennis programs in Oklahoma and aims to serve up similar results this season. The 2023 season saw the boys finish in fourth place at State and bring back a skilled bunch. Head coach Randy Painton is eager about both the boys and girls programs heading into the season.

“I think I’ve got the best boys team I’ve ever had,” said Painton.

The Jaguars are happy to have sophomore Trenton Kanchanakomtorn back after an outstanding performance last season. Kanchanakomtorn is currently the No. 1 ranked player in Oklahoma and the coaching staff is excited about what the future holds. Jaguars’ fans can also count on senior Jonathan Eichman to hold it down as the No. 2 singles player on the team. Painton is also looking at senior Hans Lee to have a good season.

Other notable Jaguars on varsity are Edward Nguyen and Nathaniel Gaston.

For the girls, this year is about getting the season going one match at a time.

“This is a rebuilding year for the girls, but I would still like to see some girls qualify for State,” said Painton.

The Jaguars have a hungry group who need quality time on the court. Painton has confidence in the girls and loves the effort they have put in.

24 | March 2024

“They play hard and should win a lot of matches this year,” said Painton.

Jag fans can expect sophomore Falon Prater to be the No. 1 girls’ single player. Senior Elena Standefer and sophomore Sadie Hadlock have the potential to have a solid season. Also making varsity are Emily Nguyen, Makena Hadlock and Molly Matherly.


Westmoore enters the 2024 girls track and field season with a refreshed mindset after a 2023 campaign that did not live up to the Jaguars’ standard.

The Jaguars brought in Missy Smith to help restore Westmoore to its former ways.

“These kids are embracing the new style of coaching and programming,” said Smith. “They are taking everything on with 100 percent faith and it is showing in our training.”

While the season has yet to begin, Smith hopes the returners show the underclassmen how things go.

“I want the upperclassmen to take on more leadership and mentor-type roles,” said Smith. “This will help continue the tradition of excellence here at Westmoore.”

During the offseason, Westmoore has bought into being better in all areas of life. Smith believes success will come on the track and field if the girls are their best selves off the track.

Westmoore has a large number of freshmen who should help the team fill out multiple events.

“We are a very well-rounded team this year,” said Smith. “The freshmen joining are allowing us to explore all our options.”

Westmoore looks to hit the 2024 boys track and field season running at full speed after a great 2023 campaign where the boys earned a top-10 finish at State.

First-year head coach Dakota Kapelle has everything he needs to beat the tough Class 6A competition. Kapelle has left no stone unturned as he ensured everyone in the program is held responsible.

“We are focusing on building a more united team this season,” said Kapelle. “From the coaches down to the managers, from distance to throws, our goal is to be a unified force every practice, meet and even in the hallways of the school.”

Eva Tice

The Jaguars have a motto for the season that will carry the team throughout the year.

“Our goal this season is to ‘Always Win!’,” said Kapelle. “This motto is lived out by our team members by simply making the winning decision at every opportunity to do so.”

Westmoore faithful can expect big things from a strong senior group. Nathan Aryeequaye returns with the sixth fastest time in the 300-meter hurdles in the history of Oklahoma. The Jaguars also have Kolton Bennett who is the returning 6A state champ in the 800-meter. The Jaguars are also looking at Jacob Dunzy, Tyler Stephens and Trystyn Shamblin to be strong mid-distance runners.

“They have been consistently putting in hard work and will all have an impact this season,” said Kapelle.

Senior Carlos Pardo and junior Alex Le will be key athletes in the throwing events as well as juniors Tylei Curtis and Maddox Beavers in the pole vaults.– SMS



The Sabercats begin the 2024 baseball season with a new face at the helm. Southmoore brought in Hunter Aguirre to right the ship after a disappointing 2023 season. The Sabercats failed to make the state tournament and finished the season with a losing record.

Even though Aguirre has only been the head coach for a short time, he has already begun to see what kind of team he has.

“We have a great mix of senior leadership along with some young talent,” said Aguirre. “I expect some of the young guys to make an impact this season.”

If the Sabercats are going to have success, they will have to do it behind strong pitching and quality defense.

“I don’t see us getting into a ton of slugfests this spring,” said Aguirre. “We need to make sure we execute when it’s necessary and get hits when they matter.”

Leading the Sabercats, this season are senior pitcher Noah Phan, senior Andre Landeros and junior Kasen Rinehart.

Aguirre has a simple mindset that could lead Southmoore down the right path to State.

“I just want to see them continue to get better each game,” said Aguirre. “That way we play our best baseball by May.”


The Sabercats are eager to get the 2024 golf season underway and have high hopes for both the boys and girls teams.

Spring Sports Preview

“Seeing what a new team can do each year gets me excited every season,” said head coach Brad Black. “I like to see what kind of progress we’ve made from the time we started in August until the season begins.”

Black has big expectations for the boys this season and believes they have the necessary tools to take golfers to State.

“I believe that this could be one of the best seasons that we have had in a while and I’m looking forward to seeing how the season turns out,” said Black.

The boys return state qualifier senior Kouper Romo and look to keep the streak alive as he leads the boys. Behind Romo is junior Gavin Elmore.

The girls are looking at a rebuilding season after losing numerous golfers to graduation. Black still believes the

26 | March 2024
Javier Litton

girls can have a good season. Fans can expect senior Ella Smith to lead the girls this year.

“While our girls are rebuilding from losing six seniors from last year, we are still looking forward to a great season,” said Black.

If the Sabercats are going to send golfers to State, a collective effort must be made.

“If we want to make it to state, the scores have to go down. We need our overall team score to drop,” said Black.

Black is excited to see how his teams perform in tournament play but acknowledges that one tournament means the most.

“Every golf tournament is an important matchup,” said Black. “But the Regionals tournament is the one that matters, as it is the only thing that decides who goes to State.”


Southmoore looks to get the 2024 soccer season started, led by rosters full of potential.

The boys team has redemption on their minds after their 2023 fell short of preseason expectations.

“Some of the things a team needs to win are perfected off the field and that’s where we fell short last year,” said head coach Kit Stephenson. “We’ve come a long way, but it’s not tested yet. I hope to see us stay strong in our foundation when the going gets tough.”

Stephenson believes this year will be different due to the effort put in during the offseason.

“We’ve made great strides in leadership, culture, weight room and on the field since last spring,” said Stephenson. “I’m excited because this team is unrecognizable from last year.”

The boys came up with a motto that should help keep them on track throughout the season. “For the ones before us” is the team mantra and it has driven the group.

“We want to give our alumni a win-loss record and team culture that they can be proud of,” said Stephenson.

Southmoore’s starting seniors have received offers to play at the next level and numerous juniors have garnered offers from high-level programs as well. Some players to watch are seniors Austin Hurt, Camden Hellams, Javier Litton and Damien Leyva.

The Sabercats are a part of the east division in 6A, putting them against some of the best teams in the state.

“We are lucky to have a schedule of top teams to play this year,” said Stephenson. “We are also looking forward to the two rivalry games at home against Westmoore and Moore.”

The girls were able to put a solid season together but were unable to make State last spring. Looking forward, head coach Kathryn Swartzendruber is excited about the squad she has.

“I can’t wait to see the growth of our underclassmen and how the leadership and experience of our upperclassmen come together,” said Swartzendruber.

Last season, the girls had problems with players coming off the bench and not being able to contribute. Those issues should be remedied as the team has focused on being a tighter unit this season.

“We want to compete every play and be connected as a team,” said Swartzendruber.

Swartzendruber is excited about the core of her team and what they can accomplish this year. Those players are junior forward Makala Johnson, sophomore forward Janelle Fleischer, senior midfield Hannah Montoya, senior midfield Leilana Carolina, senior defender Jenna Lingo, senior defender Alyssa Schuerch and sophomore goalkeeper Lelu Lamb.

Swartzendruber is excited to take on their rivals this season.

“We always look forward to our Moore and Westmoore games,” said Swartzendruber. “Those are competitive games that help us prepare for district play.”


Southmoore is set to continue its powerhouse ways in the 2024 slow-pitch softball season. The Sabercats dominated their way through the regular season and the state tournament last season, making it to the championship game against Mustang.

It was back and forth the entire game, but Mustang was able to do enough in the end coming out on top with a score of 17-15.

Head coach James Lingo has big expectations for this season.

“We have plenty of good softball players in our program with a lot of depth,” said Lingo. “Everyone has a strong desire to win, especially after losing in the finals last spring.”


Samantha Nguyen

Lingo knows if his team is going to get back to State, they must embrace the grind.

“We have to be more consistent during the year,” said Lingo. “More of a steady improvement as we go through the schedule and play our best softball at the end.”

Competing at a high level year after year is a difficult task, but Lingo knows the program is built with the long game in mind.

“There are few gaps on our team this year,” said Lingo. “But our next year up mentality has helped us be a consistent contender in 6A for the last 10 years.”

Southmoore has a solid group of seniors to lead their team back to State including middle infielder Brylee Fanning, infielder Kaylee Carter, outfielder and pitcher Abby Whitmore, pitcher Lainey King, utility Kayla Stover and outfielder/ infielder and pitcher Karleigh Williams.


The Sabercats are coming off a successful 2023 tennis season, but both the boys and girls teams have plenty of adversity to overcome this year.

“We have had a lot of changes to our team this year with people graduating,” said head coach Kelly Johnson. “This will be a rebuilding year for our boys and some of the girls.”

While there have been several departures for both programs, Johnson does have a few bright spots on the roster.

The girls return State-qualifying junior Samantha Nguyen who finished 6th place at State last year. Nguyen leads the way for the girls as the No. 1 singles player and Johnson could not be more excited.

“We have high hopes that she will place even higher this year,” said Johnson.

At the No. 2 singles spot, Southmoore has junior Mia Johnson. The No. 1 doubles team is Katarina Bomarius and Chloe Nguyen. No. 2 doubles team is Breanna Laughead and Allie Sprague.

The boys will be looking to build momentum as the year goes on. Southmoore lost five to graduation but should still be able to have a solid season.

“Honestly, this is going to be a rebuilding year for our boys team,” said Johnson. “We’re hoping to get them

28 | March 2024

some tournament experience to build strength and confidence for seasons to come.”

For the boys, fans can expect a big season from senior Cobe Nguyen as the No. 1 singles player. No. 2 singles player is senior Bryan Nguyen. Doubles No. 1 team will be Caden Belcher and Kevin Luu. The No. 2 doubles team will be handled by Dylan Perez and Caleb Williams.

The Ponca City Invitational will be an important tournament for the Sabercats as the tournament always hosts some of the best talent in the state, giving Southmoore a chance to see how they compare.


The Sabercats enter the 2024 track and field season looking to build off the momentum from last spring. Southmoore saw their girls team qualify for State and finish ninth place overall. The boys team had a solid season but were unable to produce similar results.

First-year head coach T.J. Lovejoy is faced with replacing several athletes from last season but has faith in his teams. Lovejoy just wants his Sabercats to focus on the fundamentals to help the team achieve the ultimate goal, which is to compete at State.

“I believe the kids are going to shock themselves as well as the competition when we compete,” said Lovejoy. “The kids have put in a lot of effort both on the track and in the weight room.”

Lovejoy feels that other teams might underestimate the Sabercats and that could provide the boost they need. One thing Lovejoy would like to do is build depth to fill events with quality athletes.

“We need to fill some spots in the lengthier races and jump events,” said Lovejoy. “We have a few long sprinters, but more is always better.”

Lovejoy is expecting big things from junior Ayanna Woods in the discus. On the boys’ side, sophomore Alex Ngo is set to be a force in the 100- and 200-meter races. Fans can count on senior Joshua Rammage to handle a few different events but specializes in long-distance running. Another runner to keep tabs on is junior Israel Lopez who will be running in the 100- and 200-meter races. – SMS

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The Lions are looking to turn things around for the 2024 baseball season after Moore’s season was cut short after a loss to Westmoore at Regionals. Head coach Caleb Teel has a talented team and believes they can put together a great season.

“I’m excited about our athleticism throughout our entire lineup,” said Teel. “Leadership has improved from top to bottom as well.”

The pitching rotation may be an area of concern for the Lions early in the season.

“We need to find another starting pitcher or two,” said Teel. “The right guys are here; it is just about who steps up.”

Lions’ fans should be excited about senior middle infielder JayShaun Sykes. Sykes had a spectacular year at the plate last season, finishing with a .400 average. Another steady player for the Moore is senior pitcher Cooper Howe and junior Crue Riley is expected to play a bigger role this season.

Teel believes his squad can accomplish a lot this season.

“One of our goals this season is to make a Regional final,” said Teel. “I would also like for the team to hold a GPA above 3.0.”


The Lions enter the 2024 golf season with great spirits after both the boys’ and girls’ programs had a productive 2023 campaign. Both have head coach Ryan Dukes feeling great as Moore returns most of its golfers on both sides.

The boys bring back everyone from last season including junior Casen Bell, the only state-qualifying golfer. Other golfers to keep an eye on are twin juniors Charlie and Jesse Dowell.

Spring Sports Preview

“Charlie and Jesse are in their third year in the program,” said Dukes. “They both have two years of varsity experience and multiple top-ten finishes at tournaments.”

Rounding out the core is junior Gavin Baker who brings plenty of varsity experience as well.

If the boys want to achieve their ultimate goal of sending the entire team to State, they must all be on the same page.

“Last year, we would have three guys who play well and one who would not,” said Dukes. “We could never put it together and have a day where all four played well.”

Dukes believes the boys can send the team this year to the state tournament as they just missed the cut by one spot last season.

The girls are looking to have similar results this season after sending the entire team to state last year.

30 | March 2024
Olivia Lee

“We look to push ourselves and make the jump to the next level,” said Dukes. “We want to compete with the best teams in the state.”

Leading the group for the girls is junior Ava Fritts who has two years of varsity experience. Fritts is the model of consistency as she qualified for state her freshman year and followed it up by anchoring the team at State last season. Another strong golfer for the girls is junior Olivia Lee.

“Olivia was our top golfer late in the year on our state tournament team,” said Dukes. “Ava and Olivia push each other and the rest of the team to get better.”

Freshmen Anna Fritts, Jaely Bell and Addison Mann are expected to make contributions this year as well.

Dukes wants to see the girls qualify for State as a team and will get a good idea if they can get there after competing in the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference tournament.

“Our conference is very tough as we normally have seven teams from our conference qualify for State,” said Dukes. “We have a good showing there, then we can see where we stand with the other teams.”


The Lions have plenty of optimism this spring after a successful 2023 campaign. Moore had an explosive offense last year which led to a spot in the State playoffs.

While the Lions lost leadership to graduation, head coach Steven Peeler has confidence in the group he has for the 2024 season.

“We lost some key players,” said Peeler. “We are fortunate here at Moore High School to have players that we can plug right in.”

Moore brings back a lineup that can simply get it done from top to bottom. The Lions are led by a stellar senior bunch - Nichelle Marshall, Karlee Smith, Rosie Perez and Ryann Phillips.

“I’m excited about how diverse the team is,” said Peeler. “We have an explosive group of girls who can hit for both power and provide the base hit.”

Having the ability to hit for power at any given moment can be a blessing and a curse.

“We need to improve on being patient and letting the game come to us,” said Peeler.

Peeler’s goal for the season is to play one game at a time and leave it all out on the field. That is the exact mindset Moore is going to need for the beginning stretch of the season. The Lions face Choctaw, Southmoore, Westmoore and Mustang right off the bat.

“We have a tough schedule this year,” said Peeler. “We’ll need to get off to a fast start.”


Moore is looking forward to the 2024 soccer season after a 2023 campaign which was a building block year for both the boys’ and girls’ program.

The boys ended up on the wrong end of most games last season. Head coach Trevor Hunt, now in his second year, looks to continue building a winning culture at Moore. The Lions seem to have better chemistry going into this season.

“This year the team is close-knit,” said Hunt. “They have made a conscious effort to go to team dinners every Friday.”

After coming off a disappointing season, it can be difficult for any team to band together. Hunt will find out if his team has what it takes as they are facing tough competition.

“Everything is great during the offseason,” said Hunt. “The true test is when we go through some adversity during the year.”

Despite losing several seniors who helped establish a new culture, Hunt has optimism for the season, especially since he has 16 seniors on the roster.

“I am expecting some big things from this group of seniors,” said Hunt.

Some of the seniors who Hunt is counting on are Riley Mull, Landon Vaughn, Daillen Banks and Landon Casler.

Hunt’s expectations for his boys are to beat Westmoore, Southmoore and to make the playoffs.

For the girls, they will be led by first-year head coach Aubrey Highfill. Highfill brings a sense of continuity for the girls as she was an assistant coach last season.

The girls return several starters and will incorporate young talent into the program. But, if the Lions are going to turn the corner this season, Highfill and her team must figure out how to close out games.

“We want to score more goals and finish games,” said Highfill. “Last season, we found ourselves in a draw and forced games to penalty kicks.”

While Highfill has confidence in her group, there is still one question to answer.

“We are still looking for someone to take the place of Amaia Stephens who graduated last year,” said Highfill. Key players on the squad this spring are junior forward Addie Worley, sophomore forward Kristen Straughn, sophomore forward Rylan McIntyre and freshman midfielder Cadyn Betancourt.


The Lions had the luxury of relying on upperclassmen last season, but this year holds a different story.


“We lost a lot of seniors,” said head coach Debby Hooks. “I am excited to see how our team adjusts and steps up to this challenge without much senior leadership.”

Hooks has confidence in both the boys and girls programs but acknowledges that the team must be mentally strong during stressful times.

“Our varsity teams have a huge challenge ahead of them as almost everyone is being asked to play at higher positions this year,” said Hooks. “I am confident that the Lions will rise to the occasion and play their best tennis this season.”

There is one senior in particular who Hooks believes could have a big season.

“Gabe Reich is our boys’ number one singles player,” said Hooks. “I believe he can make a deep run in the state tournament.”

No. 2 singles for the boys is sophomore Jackson Tait. The No. 1 doubles team will be sophomore Sal Lopez and freshman Cruz Crawford.

The girls’ No. 1 singles is junior Elisa Boozer and No. 2 is Vi Worlund. The No. 1 doubles squad is junior Keagan Cooper and senior Yelina Lopez. The No. 2 doubles team will be handled by sophomores Emma Endsley and Ashlyn Sing.

The Lions do not have a No. 2 doubles team yet, but Hooks is not too worried due to a strong offseason.


The Lions enter the 2024 track season in full stride after a successful 2023 campaign by both the boys and girls programs.

The boys were able to finish the year off with a 6th place finish at State and look to build on that momentum. Head coach Stefan Seifried is ready for the upcoming season despite losing two State champions in the pole vault and discus events.

“I’m excited about the returning athletes from last year,” said Seifried. “But we still need depth in all areas.”

Fans can expect to see senior Corey Dean running in the 200- and 400-meter races. Other Lions fans should keep an eye on are Beau Reed, Aiden Jimenez, Jaxson Wheeler and Sam Russell. They will all be a part of the 3200-meter relay and participate in individual races as well.

The girls finished last season with a top-20 performance at State and plan on doing even better this year. The girls return senior Ali Pope as she will compete in the pole vault and hurdle events. Pope placed third at State last year in the pole vault, giving Moore plenty of excitement for this year. Another runner in the girls’ program to keep tabs on is Makayla McGinnis as she is expected to compete in the 400-meter.– SMS

32 | March 2024
Gabriel Reich

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South Metro Eats

36 | March 2024
Crimson Melt

Visit one of Moore’s newest restaurants, the Crimson Melt, to enjoy gourmet grilled cheese and give back to the community at the same time.

The idea for Crimson Melt, which opened last summer at 2100 N. Eastern Ave, Ste. 10, was born in a firehouse. Ashontay Owens and his wife, Cori, created the innovative grilled cheese sandwich shop, inspired by Owens’ time as an Air Force Fire Chief.

Firefighters would often make themselves grilled cheese sandwiches with whatever leftovers they found in the shift fridge, and the influence of that experience is seen in Crimson Melt’s unique menu.

“He used to cook in the firehouse all the time, and that’s what a lot of these menu items are inspired by,” explained Susanna Cardenas, chief operating officer and general manager.

A popular sandwich among customers is named “The Shift Fridge,” according to Cardenas. This sandwich includes cheddar, mozzarella, grilled or breaded chicken, tater tots, mac-n-cheese, cheese curds and bacon. Another popular item, and Cardenas’ favorite, is the “Flying Fortress,” which features smoked mozzarella, smoked brisket, onion rings and BBQ sauce.

The menu also includes items named after Air Force planes, like “The Fighting Falcon” shake, or after people who have been supportive of Owens when he was in the military or as he started his business, such as “Wolnik’s Hook and Ladders” shake for his friend, James Wolnik.

Along with sandwiches, the Crimson Melt menu includes shakes, appetizers, salads and more. In addition to regular menu items, Crimson Melt offers monthly specials for both a sandwich and a shake.

The Owens had goals beyond serving food when creating Crimson Melt - connecting with the community and giving back. Cardenas said the restaurant honors active military members and veterans, first responders and teachers by providing a 10 percent discount. Recently, the restaurant hosted a fundraiser night for a Norman Public Schools elementary and, last year, raised money to reduce Moore Public Schools’ lunch deficit.

All purchases at Crimson Melt benefit Owens’ Folds of the Flame Foundation, which aims to combat military and first responder suicide and to support families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

“It was a huge factor in making the restaurant,” Cardenas shared. “Since Ashontay was a firefighter, he knows firsthand how difficult it can be for families.”

Last month, Crimson Melt hosted a successful charcuterie class, and Cardenas said they plan to hold a variety of other events to connect with the community.

“There isn’t as much going on in this part of Moore, and I think it would be nice for the people who live around here or who want to travel just a little bit to come over here. We’ve got plenty of parking, and it’s fun to plan and host these events.”

For Cardenas, who previously worked for large companies, being part of a restaurant focused on supporting others - and being able to do so in a way where she can see that impact - is an aspect of her role she has enjoyed.

“We’re meeting people who live here, and we’re getting their feedback. We’re seeing who needs what kind of help, and it feels good at the end of the day to know that you’re supporting your community and doing the most you can,” she said.

Crimson Melt is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. To learn more, visit or follow the restaurant on Facebook (@ TheCrimsonMeltOfficial) or @TheCrimsonMelt on Instagram and X.– SMS



38 | March 2024 COMMUNITY

Sooner Bowling Center is celebrating 40 years as a locally owned institution of family fun, and to mark their big anniversary they are having a party on March 8 for the Sooner Bowl community to share their memories over the years.

Sooner Bowling Center has deep roots in Norman, originally opening in 1963 and operated by the Carney family, who continue to participate in bowling leagues and take an active part in the Norman bowling community. In 1984, Alan and Deloros Haws, longtime bowlers, entered into business with another Norman family as part owners of the bowling center and later purchased the property.

“As a lifelong bowler of over 60 years, Sooner Bowl has been my home bowling center,” Cheryl Carney said. “My family owned the original Sooner Bowl from 1963-1980. We prided ourselves on having a family fun atmosphere and always keeping our customers satisfied.

“When the Haws family opened as the new owners, they continued these aspects and found many ways to improve the experience at the center. The manager and staff provide a great environment for bowling, as well as socializing with my friends and family. Sooner is a go-to place for competitive bowling or a fun outing anytime.”

Alan and Deloros Haws have made an effort to involve their family in business and have passed on the long-treasured Norman pastime to their children and grandchildren. Their daughter-in-law, Mandy Haws, now manages the business side of the bowling center and continues to keep an eye on the future as they look to imbue future generations with a love for the sport of bowling.

“When I purchased the bowling center, I never imagined it would have such longevity,” Alan Haws said. “We love that it is a second, and almost 3rd generation family business. My wife, Deloros and I bowled there, our kids grew up there and now my grandkids are growing up there. Everyone in Norman has a fond memory of having fun at Sooner Bowl and we are excited to celebrate that this year as we turn 40.”

Mandy Haws has operated the Sooner Bowling Center for over 20 years, and she says during that time a lot has changed. They have renovated most spaces within the center, including the removal of the nowmissed tiki bar. They have also added an arcade and expanded their kitchen to include a catering division. Sooner Bowling Center purchased the escape room next door and are now working to make the space available from inside the bowling center.

Mandy Haws says that no one area of the business outperforms another. Their leagues continue to be popular, and the bowling center is also a favorite local venue for birthdays and parties.

Their facilities can accommodate over 400 people and include a full-service food operation called the Spare Time Grill, which also offers catering. They also have an arcade with pool tables and video games. In addition to private events, they are involved in fundraising, which Mandy Haws says is her passion after working for many years as the director of the OK Heart Walk.

“We support high school bowling, and we just hosted a big Special Olympics tournament,” Mandy Haws said. “Being a place where people can gather and just come enjoy themselves, that’s the overarching thing that makes me the happiest.”

For more information on the 40th-anniversary party and other Sooner Bowling Center events, follow them on Facebook (@SoonerBowl) or visit their website– BSM



Norman Regional’s Revolutionary Approach to Fitness and Wellness

Behind the tagline “What moves you. Moves us.”, NMotion, a human and sports performance center owned by Norman Regional Health System, is striving to bridge the gap between fitness and medicine to help clients achieve their fitness and wellness goals, shared Heather Kuklinski, the center’s administrative director of outpatient musculoskeletal operations.

“We want to help our clients move faster, jump higher, move more with less pain,” Kuklinski explained. NMotion employs a range of tests, treatments and therapies to tackle issues hindering performance and recovery, such as chronic inflammation, recurrent injuries or mobility concerns. According to Kuklinski, the inspiration for NMotion stemmed from the vision of CEO Richie Splitt, who prioritizes wellness and preventative medicine within the health system.

“As we advance in our mission, our commitment remains steadfast in delivering accessible, state-ofthe-art care tailored to the distinctive needs of each person,” said Splitt. “This collaboration (at the Young Family Athletic Center) is more than just a partnership; it’s a promise to empower our community members to achieve their personal best, whether that’s on the field or in their daily lives for years to come.”

Anchored by highly credentialed providers, Dr. Amanda Sadler, MD, and Jozsef Szendrei, CSCS, each with a background in functional medicine, the center is designed to cater to individuals of all fitness levels, offering a supportive environment for pursuing performance goals. In fact, Dr. Sadler and the NMotion team want to go beyond the traditional definition of an athlete “to empower individuals to live healthier, more fulfilling lives.”

“Anyone on a physical pursuit of greatness is an athlete in my eye,” Dr. Sadler said, who has competed in the IRONMAN World Championship six times. “The greatness you pursue can be in sport, work, family or life.”

With state-of-the-art fitness facilities and specialized services, NMotion offers a spectrum of resources and tools aimed at empowering individuals. Before the center’s official opening at its new location within the Young Family Athletic Center, the NMotion team piloted their program with a group of local athletes, focusing on strength, agility, sleep education and nutrition education.

“We picked a tough crowd – teenage boys - to measure their performance before and then after being in the program,” said Kuklinski. “Their coach said there

40 | March 2024 HEALTH

was a noticeable difference in the athletes participating in the voluntary program.”

The Young Family Athletic Center, located in northwest Norman, is a collaborative effort between Norman Regional and the City of Norman. The center houses NMotion, an Ortho Central orthopedic clinic, Ortho Central Physical Therapy, a multi-sport gymnasium and two competition pools.

NMotion’s services encompass gut health, nutrient therapy, adrenal function assessment, running gait analysis and more. Through bio-feedback, providers tailor treatment plans to address each client’s specific symptoms, prioritizing recovery, endurance and injury prevention. To learn more about NMotion, visit or follow the center on social media. – BSM

If you are starting or continuing a fitness journey, Heather Kuklinski shared some important strategies to propel your performance goals:

1. Listen to your body and pay attention to what it is telling you. It is important to take the time to think about whether this is something you should push past or look into.

2. In any performance-based goal, there will always be setbacks but don’t live there. It is okay to have a bad day, we all have them. Selfreflect on what happened and why to see what you can change for tomorrow.

Jozsef Szendrei Dr. Amanda Sandler
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