Poise under pressure usually translates into success in any athletic endeavor.
This week’s top athlete has been demonstrating that approach during her entire high school career, but she surpassed even her own high standards last week with an individual title in the Southwestern Conference girls’ track meet and anchoring the OTHS 4x400 relay team in the final race of the competition, an event that O’Fallon needed to win in order capture their third SWC title in the past five years.
With the outcome of the meet squarely on her shoulders as the anchor runner, sophomore Tami Cardenas responded with a superior effort, fighting off the challenges of the rest of the field to cross the finish line ahead of the pack.
The 4x400 relay win allowed the Lady Panthers to squeeze past second place Edwardsville by a single point.
“Tami has really worked on her strength from last year," said OTHS varsity coach Neil James. "She has taken her running to the next level in both cross country and track, pretty amazing for a sophomore runner. She is very dependable and gives a maximum effort every time out. As evidenced by her anchoring our 4x400 to win the conference title. We had to win the race to win the meet, and she came through for us. She also won the 800 and anchored the winning 4x800 team.”
“My family has had a major influence on why I participate in track,” said the 16-year old runner, the daughter of Ernest and Elizabeth Cardenas. “I grew up running sprints with my brother and sister, and I haven’t stopped since. At age two, my parents put me in family fun runs. I can’t thank my coaches and teammates enough for my development as a runner.” “Being a triathlete has definitely taught me discipline and responsibility." Cardenas added. “With a hectic schedule, sports have helped me to set priorities straight.”