The OTHS girls track team came back with a vengeance last Friday, rolling over a 10-team field to capture the Collinsville Invitational team championship. The victory took some of the sting out of their second-place finish in the St. Clair County showdown mid-week when they came up short against the East St. Louis Flyerettes.
“We were able to secure more first-place finishes at Collinsville, which allowed us to build a big point advantage early and maintain it throughout the competition,” said Panther coach Neil James. “We had excellent efforts from our athletes in both the track and the field events. Our veteran runners led the way, but we also had valuable contributions from several underclassmen, which bodes well for up-coming meets and post-season possibilities.”
After completion of the final race, the Lady Panthers had secured eight first-place medals. The OTHS individual winners included Mya Watson-Blake (high jump), Mackenzie Ryan (triple jump), Dartrenetta Holman (400) and Tamya Houston (200). O’Fallon dominated the relay events with victories in the varsity 4 x 100, varsity 4 x 200, JV 4 x 800, and JV 4 x 100.
When the Panthers weren’t enjoying the glow of the winner’s circle, they were racking up points with an impressive number of second- and third-place finishes. Second-place efforts were turned in by Abby Carney (high jump), Mya Watson-Blake (long jump), Mackenzie Ryan (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, Brooke Witzel (1,600) and the varsity 4 x 800 relay team. Third-place medals were earned by Grace Mulholland in pole vault, freshman Kayla Gordon in long jump, Amy Wagner in both the discus and shot put events, Kersten Douglas (100), Kenzi McCormick (800), and Danna Jenkins (1,600).
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St. Clair County meet
In the mid-week St. Clair County meet, the O’Fallon girls scored nearly as many second- and third- place finishes. However, East St. Louis’ strong showing in the sprints proved the difference in the final tally.
The Lady Panthers scored four first-place finishes — two individual titles and two relay victories. One top individual effort was produced by freshman Kaitlyn Walker, who out-paced the field to win the 3,200. Junior Maddie Collins made the 3,200 a big winner for O’Fallon, finishing second behind Walker. The other victory came from senior Kersten Douglas, who blasted her way to win in the 200.
O’Fallon’s state-ranked 4 x 200 relay team, composed of speedsters Kersten Douglas, Tamya Houston, Datrenneta Holman and Mia Watson-Blake, out-dueled the Flyerettes, and the Lady Panthers collected their fourth win with a strong first-place effort from the 4 x 800 team that included Katie Mank, Brooke Witzel, Kenzi McCormick and Sophie Wichlac.
Second-place finishes were also harder to secure, which made it easier for East St. Louis to maintain its lead. Those collecting second-place medals included Mya Watson-Blake (high jump), Brooke Witzel (800) and the 4 x 400 relay team. Third-place efforts came from Abby Carney (high jump), Grace Mulholland (pole vault), Mackenzie Ryan (triple jump and 100 hurdles), Amy Wagner (discus), Ally Foote (400) and Katie Mank (1600).
Boys County Meet
The OTHS boys team also faced off against local schools in the St. Clair County meet last week. Coach Ron Koch’s charges ended the day in fourth place overall with 95 team points. East St. Louis won the competition with 164 points.
O’Fallon’s distance corps provided the bulk of the points. The Panthers earned first-place honors in the 4 x 800 with Matt Gilster, Joey Black, Garrett Blenkush and Chris Conrad joining forces to secure the win. Individual championship efforts were produced by senior Joey Black in the 1,600 and sophomore Will VanAlstine in the 3,200. Senior Nathan Rainge continued to prepare for defense of his state titles with impressive showings in the wheelchair 100 and 400. Malik Giddens earned team points in both the discus (second) and shot put (third). Other OTHS entries adding points were Braden Johnson (second, discus), Lucas Capistrant (third in the 3,200) and the 4 x 400 relay team.
The next major meets will occur this week. The Lady Panthers were scheduled to face their Southwestern Conference adversaries yesterday (Wednesday, May 3), and the OTHS boys team will compete this weekend in the Collinsville Invitational, followed by the Southwestern Conference meet next Wednesday, May 10.