O'Fallon Progress

OTHS sprinters race to two state titles

O’Fallon senior Mya Watson-Blake helps the Panthers claim victory in the 800-meter relay at the IHSA state meet on Saturday.
O’Fallon senior Mya Watson-Blake helps the Panthers claim victory in the 800-meter relay at the IHSA state meet on Saturday. For the News-Democrat

In sports, there is no substitute for speed.

O’Fallon Township High School girls track coach Neil James,can attest to that after watching his talented corps of sprinters make history this past weekend at the Illinois High School Association’s Class 3A state track meet held at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. That was the venue on Saturday when O’Fallon’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay teams raced into the record book by winning the two events.

Those scintillating efforts, combined with senior Tamya Houston’s third-place medal in the 100 and an eighth-place finish in the 4 x 400, gave the O’Fallon High girls track program its best-ever team finish at the state finals — fourth place.

“This was the culmination of so much hard work by our sprinters,” James said. “I couldn’t be prouder or happier for them. Talent can put you in a position to succeed, but it takes commitment, determination and will power — attributes that all of these girls possess which has allowed them to realize their dream.”

The O’Fallon’s most difficult challenge came in the 4 x 100. Problems with the baton exchange during the race forced a gutsy anchor leg by senior Mya Watkins-Blake in order for the Panthers to win the event. Kersten Douglas, Tamya Houston and Chloe Lambert completed their legs only milliseconds behind Romeoville when Watkins-Glenn began her sprint down the home stretch. The senior sprinter was able to make up the time deficit, leaning across the finish line 0.12 seconds ahead of the Romeoville anchor. The OTHS foursome completed the circuit in 47.55.

After the heart-stopping victory, Watkins-Blake, Douglas and Houston combined forces with Dartrenetta Holman to win the 4 x 200 relay in 1:38.58, establishing a new school record and qualifying as one of the top 10 times in Illinois girls track history. Romeoville again finished second to the Panthers, less than a second off the winning pace.

O’Fallon’s third relay entry, the 4 x 400,contributed valuable points to the Panthers total with an eighth place. Watson-Blake, running in third relay final of the day, joined forces with Taliah Reese, Chloe Lambert and Ally Foote to finish in the top 10.

Senior sprint standout Tamya Houston accounted for the final O’Fallon points. Running against a strong field, Houston finished third in the 100 meter dash, just 0.13 seconds behind the winner, Amira Young of Chicago Whitney Young High School.

IHSA Class 3A Girls’ State Finals Team Scores: Glenbard West, 47; Homewood Flossmoor, 43; Naperville North, 40; O’Fallon, 29; Bloomington/Thornwood, 28; East St. Louis, 25; Harvey Thornton, 24; West Aurora/Romeoville, 22.