When O’Fallon senior sprinter Mya Watson-Blake received the baton in last Saturday’s 4 x 100 IHSA state finals, the dreams of her and her teammates winning a state title were in jeopardy. Two faulty exchanges earlier in the race put the Panthers milliseconds behind Romeoville as Watson-Blake eyed the finish line. In the final 10 meters, the OTHS speedster summoned up the courage, will and physical prowess to break the tape 0.12 seconds ahead of the Romeoville anchor, securing one of the two O’Fallon championships in the Class 3A state showcase.
“After the disappointment of last year when errors in our exchanges denied us a chance at the state title, we were not going to be denied this year,” Watson-Blake explained. “My teammates (Tamya Houston, Kersten Douglas and Chloe Lambert) and I were determined to win.”
That desire to excel has been a trademark of Watson-Blake’s career as a member of the Lady Panther track team over the past four years — campaigns marked by successes not only as a member of O’Fallon’s sprint relay corps but also as an individual performer in the sprints and the high jump. This spring the versatile senior, the daughter of Bernadette and Donald Watson-Blake, qualified for four events in the state finals and was a major factor in the Lady Panthers securing a second state title on the O’Brien Stadium track oval during the weekend — the 4 x 200.
“Mya has been so steady and so exceptional throughout her high school career,” said OTHS coach Neil James. “As our anchor in both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays, we have placed a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, and she has always come through like a champion.”
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“I run track because I enjoy running and the bond that’s created between myself and my teammates,” explained the talented trackster, who also earned Athlete of the Week honors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during the spring season. “I started running in sixth grade, and I’ll continue to run in college. Hard work and determination have contributed to my success along with the support of my coaches, teammates and parents.
“Running on a team over the past four years has allowed me to accomplish a number of things that I would have never known I could do without actually doing it,” Watson-Blake added. “It has allowed me to make a number of friends who have been there for me and helped me accomplish my goals, whether they were here for four years or just one. I’m very happy I had the opportunity to run with them.”