For the O’Fallon Panthers it was all about getting out of the blocks on Friday at the annual Collinsville Girls Track and Field Invitational.
Junior sprinter Tamya Houston used a quick start to break the meet record in the 100 meters while Mackenzie Ryan used a quick start to dominate in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles as the Panthers claimed their second title in as many nights, winning the the 10-team meet by 49 1/2 points over Alton.
One of a deep and talented group of sprinters in the Panthers junior class, Houston was cat quick getting out the starting blocks with a rush and finished with a meet record of 12.37 seconds, just ahead of teammate Kersten Douglas (12.56 seconds) to give O’Fallon an early lead.
And just like 24 hours earlier when O’Fallon won the St. Clair County Meet, it was never threatened as it scored the easy win.
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“Part of tonight was giving the girls a chance to see what it’s like to compete in back-to-back days which it what they’ll face at the state meet three weeks from now,” Panthers coach Neil James said. “I know East St. Louis has done it and I think Cahokia and Edwardsville have also done it in the past.
“But the other part of tonight was to have a relaxed type atmosphere and let the kids have a little fun. We moved a few of them around and in some cases let some of the younger kids get a little experience. It was a good effort.”
Ryan also won with ease in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles (47.9 seconds), while the Panthers took home championships in the 400, 800 and 1,600 meter relays. O’Fallon finished the meet with 154 points, 49 1/2 better than Alton which finished with 104 1/2 points.
Edwardsville, which won the Madison County Meet on Thursday, was third with 103 1/2 points.
Houston was the lone athlete to break a meet record on Friday as unlike recent meets, the Panthers standout got out quick.
“For Tamya and Mac (Ryan) as well, its all about getting out of the blocks fast and I thought we did a much better job of getting out fast,” James said. “Tamya has great speed and we’ve worked on her starts. I thought she looked much better tonight.”
Brooke Witzel won the 3,200 meters for O’Fallon in a time of 11 minutes, 40 seconds.
Headed to Western Illinois University, the Richter sisters — Allison and Abigail — combined for three wins to lead Triad to a sixth-place finish.
Abigail won the 400 meters in a time of 1 minute, 1.08 seconds, while Allison continued to look like a frontrunner in both the discus and shot put at the upcoming Class 2A state track meet.
Richter came up with the best Class 2A discus throw in the state by six feet on Friday — 138 feet, 1 inch. Allison Richter also has one of the top efforts in the shot this year and had a toss of 42 feet, 9 inches on Friday.
“It was a good throw and yes I knew it was out there a long way. You can just tell when you release it if its a good throw or not,” Richter said of the effort in the discus. “I was happy with both events tonight. But as an athlete you always think you can do better and I’m that way. The goal is to win both events at state.”
Triad also got a win from Gabby Arbus in the pole vault with her effort of 10 feet.
Brown shines for Alton
One of the premier track and field athletes in the state — boys or girls — Alton senior LaJarvia Brown won the triple jump (39 feet 10 inches), the 200 meters (25.4 seconds) and the 100 meter hurdles (14.4 seconds) to lead the way for the Redbirds.
Belleville East sophomore Selelya Wilson won the 800 meters (2:27.9) and Edwardsville won the 3,200 meter relay in 9 minutes, 37.3 seconds.