O'FALLON — The O'Fallon Panthers continued to take advantage of their depth in the distance events Friday as they captured a fifth straight title at the O'Fallon Invitational girls track and field meet.
Sophomore Tami Cardenas won the 800 meters, while juniors Samantha Lapp and Sydney Neal took the 3,200 and 1,600, respectively, as the Panthers scored a 92-point win over Belleville West at O'Fallon Stadium.
Co-winners of the Belleville News-Democrat Large School Cross-Country Runner of the Year last fall, Lapp and Neal warmed up an other-wise cold spring night with impressive performances.
Lapp won the 3,200 in a time of 11 minutes, 41 seconds, while Neal won the 1,600 in 5:39. Sophomore Tami Cardenas gave the Panthers a sweep of the distance race with her victory in the 800.
"The athletes in the distance events might be the only ones who didn't mind the cold conditions,'' O'Fallon coach Neal James said. "It's our meet and so, of course, we want to do well, but it's also a meet to see where you are at this time of the season and give some kids a chance to compete.
"We're like everybody else. We're looking toward the (Southwestern) conference meet and with Belleville West, Edwardsville, Eat St. Louis and us, it's loaded. Then you've got the sectional and state meets.''
O'Fallon also got wins from Reneese Batson in the discus and claimed three of the relays as it finished with 223 points.
West finished second with 131 points, as junior Claudette Day led the way with wins in the long jump and 100 hurdles. Triad (122), Carbondale (97) and Freeburg (85) rounded out the top five teams in the nine-team field.
West also received victories from sophomores Jasmine Berry (300 hurdles) and Ni'Jia McNamee (400). But with coach Paul James shuffling his lineup because of injuries, the Maroons couldn't mount any real challenge to the Panthers.
"It's a tough weekend, because we've also got prom tomorrow (Saturday). Plus, O'Fallon is a very good team and this being their own meet, I'm sure they get a little more geared up for this one. Just like we geared up for our meet,'' James said."We've got some kids out with some injuries right now and we didn't run them tonight.
"It's cold and windy tonight also, so we just decided that instead of running some kids and maybe get hurt worse, it was better to sit out a few of them and continue to look toward the St. Clair County Meet, SWC, sectional and state.''
Third-place Triad got a win from Claire Buck in the pole vault, while Freeburg got a win from Abby Lealiamatafao in the shot put.
Other local athletes winning events included Collinsille's Kayla Marshall in the triple jump and Granite City's Natalie O'Keefe in the high jump.