Two weeks into the spring track and field season, the O’Fallon High boys and girls track teams competed in their first major test last week in the Southwestern Illinois meet, hosted by Edwardsville.
In past years, both Panther squads have used the event as a springboard for stellar seasons. This year’s totals reveal that the local teams have some work to do to rise to previous levels. Boys coach Ron Koch and girls mentor Neil James got solid efforts from their athletes. However, both teams settled for third-place finishes. Edwardsville and Rockwood Summit out-pointed the Panthers in the boys meet, while the Lady Panthers fell short in team points to champion East St. Louis and second-place Edwardsville.
The O’Fallon boys effort was led by senior standout Chris Conrad, who earned the Panthers’ only championship medal, overcoming a talented field to win the 1,600. Joey Black gave O’Fallon an additional boost in the 1,600, finishing just seconds behind Conrad to collect a second-place medal. The OTHS squad added two more second-place finishes in the 440 shuttle hurdles and in the 4 x 200.
Other contributors to the OTHS 91-point team score included Carlos Sanford (high jump), Darryl Cobb (100), Malik Giddens (discus), Quan Cobb (long jump), 400 DMR and 4 x 400.
SWIL Team Scores (Boys): Edwardsville, 144; Rockwood Summit, 103; O’Fallon, 91; Belleville East, 68; Collinsville, 66; Alton, 61; Belleville West, 44; Granite City, 24.
The Lady Panthers fell to the overall speed of the East St. Louis Flyerettes but battled mightily before being edged by Edwardsville for second place in the final team standings. The Tigers ended the meet with 87 points, and the OTHS girls finished with 84.
O’Fallon did not nail down a first-place medal in the competition but did collect six second-place finishes. The Lady Panthers who challenged for the top spot in their respective events were Mackenzie Ryan (triple jump), Mya Watson-Blake (high jump), and Tamya Houston (400, 4 x 800, 4 x 200 and 400 DMR). Other OTHS athletes earning medals included Mikayla Best, who was third in the high jump and 4 x 100, and freshman Kayla Gordon, who was fourth in the long jump and 4 x 400.
“We had some good efforts but not enough of them to counter what East St. Louis was able to do in the sprints,” said OTHS coach Neil James. “It was a solid start on the part of our girls, but we obviously need to improve our team depth and individual performances to win in the Southwestern Conference.”
SWIL Team Scores (Girls): East St. Louis, 114.5; Edwardsville, 87; O’Fallon, 84; Cahokia, 79.5; Rock Island, 77; Alton, 69; Belleville West, 32; Belleville East, 30; Rockwood Summit, 21; Collinsville, 21; Madison, 5; Granite City, 4.
The Panther thinclads will next be in action March 31 when the boys host the annual O’Fallon Relays and the girls travel to compete in the Belleville West Invitational.