Immediately after repeating as District 8-5A champions for the first time in school history, the Harker Heights girls track and field team vowed to be better when it returned to Panther Stadium in Hewitt for the area meet two weeks later.
Yet with the bar set higher, and the competition stiffer, the Lady Knights delivered on that promise Tuesday.
Six Lady Knights qualified in eight events for the Region I meet in Lubbock on Tuesday as Heights stepped up against a who’s who of state contenders.
“Our area is very competitive and when you run against faster people you always run faster,” Lady Knight head coach Michelle Womack said. “And we proved that last night.”
The Lady Knights’ relays were a strength again as Heights qualified in the 4x100 and the 4x200 relays.
Womack said the 4x100 was up to fifth in the state with its latest time, an encouraging sign for its hopes to qualify for state.
Two members of the relays, JoVanna Jones and Vivian Walters, qualified in individual events as Jones qualified in the 100-meter dash and Walters qualified in the triple jump.
In the field events, sophomore Chyna Otis also continued her impressive season by qualifying in the shot put and the discus, setting new school and personal records in both.
And in distance, Lauren Reynells qualified in the 1,600-meter run and in the 3,200 meter run to round out an impressive field for the Lady Knights.
“We finished fourth overall, so I was very pleased with that finish with the quality of teams that are coming in,” Womack said. “Because if you look at the state standings, DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Duncanville are at the top of almost every event.
“So, we competed very well with those teams.”
Despite comfortably winning the district title in his primary event, the 200-meter dash, Heights senior Darius Mitchell lamented his time in the event with a simple explanation.
“Today was not the best day to run 200,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell proved himself right in his return to Panther Stadium on Tuesday when he shaved nearly a full second off his district title-winning time to take gold in the event at the area meet.
The UTEP signee was also part of the Knights’ 4x400-meter relay team that won gold with a time of 3:18.27.
Heights also had two distance runners qualify for the Region I meet. Seniors Scott McEwan and Garrett Darrin both qualified in the 3,200-meter run.