With 10 entries qualifying for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) girls’ state track meet last weekend, the O’Fallon Lady Panthers traveled to Eastern Illinois University (EIU) with high expectations.
Most the Panthers’ aspirations were dashed in the prelims; however, one of the OTHS relay teams, the 4x200 quartet, was able to rise to the challenge, bringing home a second place medal.
O’Fallon’s young and talented sprint corps, who collectively earned a state medal last spring, faced off against the state’s best and nearly completed their mission, finishing less than half a second off the winning time of 1:39.11 posted by Lincolnway East.
Kersten Douglas, Tamya Houston, Taliah Reese and Mya Watson-Blake combined their effort to win their prelim race on Friday and challenge for the state’s best time in the finals.
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Although falling short of their goal of a state title in the event, their effort, according to Coach Neil James, was extraordinary against a very talented field of competitors.
“Kersten, Tamya, Taliah and Mya have been so good all season,” James said. “They came within an eyelash of winning it all. That makes it difficult but doesn’t diminish what they accomplished during the season.”
Most to the OTHS girls were denied the chance to compete in Saturday’s finals as they failed to qualify out of the prelims.
The only other OTHS representatives in the finale were O’Fallon’s 4x400 relay team and distance standout Brooke Witzel in the 3,200-meter run.
The 4x400 squad finished seventh in the finals, and Witzel placed 33rd, 40 seconds of the winning pace set by Lindsay Payne of Glenbard West.