The O’Fallon Panthers won the 400-meter and 800-meter relays on their way to a fourth place finish at the IHSA state track and field meet on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
In the 400-meter relay, O’Fallon trailed Romeoville by a step when senior Mya Watson-Blake received the baton. She rallied in the final 10 meters to help her Panthers teammates — seniors Kersten Douglas and Tamya Houston and junior Chloe Lambert — win the race in 47.55 seconds, 0.12 seconds faster than Romeoville.
“There were a couple of (baton) exchanges which were not the best. But with what happened last year there was no way we were going to lose this race,” Watson-Blake said. “We’ve all worked so hard over the past four years to get to this point. It feels great to be a state champion.”
Douglas, Houston, Watson-Blake and senior Dartrenetta Holmon also won the 800-meter relay in 1:38.58.
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“How did we overcome the poor handoffs? Speed,” Houston said. “We had not lost in the 800 relay all year. Today wasn’t going to be the first.”
Houston also finished third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.91 seconds. O’Fallon added an eighth place finish in the 1,600-meter relay. Altogether, the Panthers scored 29 points, finishing one point ahead of both Bloomington High School and South Holland (Thornwood).
“This senior group has just been amazing with the amount of time they have put in during the past four years,” Panthers coach Neil James said. “I’m just so proud of all of them.”
O’Fallon was not the only Southwestern Conference team to enjoy a strong day at the state finals.
East St. Louis senior Jazzmine Poole won the discus state championship with a throw of 140-feet-11-inches.
We’ve all worked so hard over the past four years to get to this point. It feels great to be a state champion.
O’Fallon senior Mya Watson-Blake
“My best throw ever was 152 (feet), but today I’ll take 140 because it won me a state championship,” Poole said. “I’m actually kind of in shock right now. To be a state champion is great.”
The Flyerettes 1,600-meter relay team, made up of senior Jada Marshall, sophomores Shonjahnea Griggs and Jariah Turner, and freshman Veronica Sherrod, finished third with a time of 3:55.62. Junior Evangeline Harris finished eighth in the shot put, and the Flyerettes 800-meter relay team was fourth.
In total, the Flyerettes finished seventh with 25 points. East St. Louis could have had a better day, but junior Rokelle Stanley, who expected to compete in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, suffered a hip flexor injury during warmups.
I’m actually kind of in shock right now. To be a state champion is great.
East St. Louis senior Jazzmine Poole
“She clipped it going over a hurdle warming up,” Flyerettes coach Nino Fennoy said. “We left it up to her and her mom whether to compete. There was a lot of pain involved.
“I am very proud of the way the rest of the team picked it up after Rokelle went down with the injury.”
Other metro-east schools
Belleville West placed fourth in the 400-meter relay but the Maroons were disqualified in the 800-meter relay for making the exchange out of the zone.
Alton junior Katie Mans finished third in the high jump with a height of 5-feet-5-inches and the Redbirds finished eighth in the 400-meter relay.
Granite City was sixth in the 400-meter relay.