An already outstanding girls’ track season got even better this past week as the OTHS girls track squad sprinted to back-to-back championships in major meets. On consecutive days, the Panthers roared to team victories in the St. Clair County and Collinsville Invitational meets, strengthening their claim as the top team in the metro-east.
O’Fallon’s deep and talented sprint corps fueled both dominating wins — with ample assistance from their distance runners — a staple of OTHS’ track success for well over a decade. The powerful one-two punch blew away the field of participants in both meets, drawing accolades from coach Neil James.
“Our girls ran extremely well in both meets,” James said. “We got outstanding efforts from our sprinters – individually and in the relay events. Our expectations for our distance runners is always high, and they also came through with an exceptional performances. Competing on consecutive days was a good test for our team since they will have to perform at a high level in the same way in about three weeks if they qualify for the state meet.”
The O’Fallon girls’ first order of business was the St. Clair County meet, and the Lady Panthers did not disappoint as they racked up a total of 190 team points, far out-distancing second place East St. Louis, who ended the day with 150.
O’Fallon’s relay teams and distance runners paced the Panther juggernaut with a total of five first place medals. Brooke Witzel and Katie Perrier took care of the distance events, Witzel streaking to victory in the 1600 and Perrier following suit with a winning effort in the 3200.
The OTHS relay teams gave a preview of things to come in the Collinsville Invitational with victories in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x800. Kersten Douglas, Tamya Houston, Taliah Reese and Mya Watson-Blake combined their considerable talents to win the 4x100 and the 4x200.
The 4x800 victory came through the combined efforts of Marta Durk, Sierra Workman, Brooke Witzel and Katie Mank.
The Lady Panthers left nothing to chance in securing the St. Clair County title. In addition to their five first place finishes, the OTHS girls collected a total of 11 additional second and third place medals. Second place medal-winners included: Lindsey Cargle (pole vault), Hannah Nabb (1600), Kersten Douglas (200), Tamya Houston (100) and Caitlyn Clinton (800).
Panther tracksters earning third place medals were: Maddie Collins (800), Mackenzie Ryan (100 hurdles), Danna Jenkins (3200), Mya Watson-Blake (high jump), Grace Mulholland (pole vault) and the 4x400 relay team.
Primed for success with their St. Clair County win, the Lady Panthers took aim on the 10-team field in the Collinsville Invitational. When the final results were tallied, the deep and talented OTHS squad waltzed to nearly a 50 point win, amassing 154 points to second place Alton’s 104.5.
Junior Tamya Houston was the brightest start among many for O’Fallon, winning the 100 meter dash and breaking the meet record in the process. Blasting out of the starting blocks, Houston broke the tape in just 12.37 seconds, .19 seconds ahead of teammate Kersten Douglas.
Houston’s sprint to victory was the only record-breaking performance during the meet.
O’Fallon collected five more blue ribbons during the meet, two additional individual victories and wins in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400. Mackenzie Ryan won the 300 intermediate hurdles, and Brooke Witzel crossed the finish line ahead of the pack in the 3200.
Showcasing their depth, the O’Fallon girls scored five second place finishes and three third place medals. Second place efforts were turned in by Taliah Reese (400), Caitlyn Clinton (1600), Mya Watson-Blake (200) and the Panthers’ 4x800 relay team.
Solid third place finishes came from Mya Watson-Blake in the high jump, Mackenzie Ryan in the 100 hurdles and Katie Mank in the 800.
Boys finish fourth
While the O’Fallon girls were grabbing the headlines, the OTHS boys’ track squad also faced off against the rest of the St. Clair County teams. The O’Fallon squad could not challenge the depth of the East St. Louis Flyers and the Cahokia Comanches but did have several athletes perform well.
The O’Fallon thinclads collected three first place medals. Jonathan Whitaker won the pole vault competition, Will VanAlstine took first in the 3200, and Chris Conrad out-sprinted the field down the home stretch to claim the top spot in the 1600.
Raymon Willamson finished second in the 110 hurdles. Third place medals were collected by Malik Giddens in the discus and O’Fallon’s 4x800 relay team. Both OTHS track teams will now set their sites on the up-coming Southwestern Conference meets.
The girls competition was scheduled for this Wed., May 4 at Edwardsville, and Ron Koch’s boys’ squad will face off against the rest of the league next Wed., May 11.