By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Former SMH star finds home with Sooners
When Ethan Baker graduated from Southmoore in 2010, he was heading north to make his mark in the world. He had accepted a scholarship from Nebraska to run track and he was looking forward to joining one of the premier programs in the nation.
However, less than three years later, Baker is back home in Oklahoma where he belongs, with the Sooners.
“I fit into this program really well,” Baker said. “A new coach came when I came. He has been awesome. He really knows what he’s talking about and stuff. It’s working out pretty well.”
Two years ago, Baker couldn’t have said the same thing in NU. From the moment he arrive in Lincoln, NE., he could tell it wasn’t the right place for him.
“I went on visit to Nebraska and really liked it,” Baker said. “Liked all the people and coaches really well. But when I got up there, the weather didn’t really click with me very well. Then I got hurt up there and it made it even worse. So then I decided to come back home. Because if I am going to transfer, I might as well go somewhere I know I would like. So I came here.”
Former Southmoore track coach Adam Helms said his former pupil may have also been homesick.
“He’s a big family kid,” Helm said. “It puts him back closer to his family. It puts him in a good situation to be able to run and compete at the D-I level without having to go somewhere that is less desirable. He is still in a good program and a situation where he can excel.”
However, Baker has been through much tougher, which helped prepare him for this troubled patch.
When he was 15 years old Baker was hanging around an oil tank field and playing around the wrong piece of machinery when the static electricity from his cell phone set it off the tanker and caused it to explode. The oil that had sprayed onto Baker’s body went up in flames. He was rushed to the hospital with a collapsed lung, broken ribs and collarbone, problems with his spleen and second and third degree burns over 44 percent of his body.
Baker’s doctors told him that he would need to stay in the hospital up to 44 days and that he may never play sports again. He was out in two weeks after telling his doctor he would be playing sports again. He was back at it four months later and went on to become a standout in football and track and field.
In both instances, Baker said he has learned the same lessons.
“I just kind learned that, no matter what it is, if I put my mind to it, I will be able to do it,” Baker said. “With me really wanting it with everything I have. And obviously God has gotten me through the explosion and all these college changes, we can accomplish anything. Even in this last year, my faith has exploded. My relationship with God is better than it has ever been.”
Baker has been at OU for more than a year now. The 2-time state champion (400 meters) runs 200, 400 and is part of the 4x100 and 4x400 relays for the Sooners
During the indoor season, he had the team’s third fastest time in the 200 with a 21.80. Saturday at the John Jacobs Invitational, the sophomore won the outdoor 200 in 21.80. His best time in the event is 21.33, which he posted in 2012 at the UTA Bobby Lane Invitational.
By the end of the season, he hopes to help his team to bring home even bigger championships.
“I want to go out and give us the best shot at conference at the end of the season,” Baker said. “We have just as good of a shot as anybody to take the whole thing. That’s what we are all building for. That’s what we always build for. This year it’s a realistic goal. If everybody takes care of business we should be there.”
Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth email@example.com