11/12-6A Track Meet at Midway HS

Harker Heights' Keonna Otis competes in the shot put and placed first to qualify for regionals during the District 11/12-6A area track meet at Panther Stadium at Waco Midway High School.

AUSTIN — The phrase “every cloud has a silver lining” is a common metaphor, but it proved quite literal for Keonna Otis.

Competing in the opening event of Saturday’s University Interscholastic League Class 6A Track & Field State Championships, Harker Heights’ senior hurler produced just two attempts in the shot put before Mother Nature put a halt on her pursuit toward a medal.

For hours, Otis waited for her next opportunity as thunderstorms deluged Mike A. Myers Stadium with rain and the surrounding area with lightning strikes, preventing the event from resuming.

Once the storms subsided, however, Otis created her own silver lining.

Following a pair of underwhelming throws for the district, area and regional champion in the event, Otis returned from the delay and recorded a distance of 43 feet, 10¾ inches. The mark propelled her into second place and held for the duration of the competition.

Following the second-place performance, Otis admitted the break actually helped.

“I was feeling really happy when the competition resumed,” she said. “The ring got covered and they dried it, so the surface wasn’t as slippery as it was before. So, I just felt like this was the perfect moment to go and just lay it all out there.

“It was my chance to make a mark.”

Otis, who cleared at least 40-4 in all three of her postseason competitions en route to qualifying for her second consecutive state appearance, started slowly with throws of 38-5¾ and 39-0½ before the inclement weather interrupted the event, which began an hour after originally scheduled.

Approximately, 2½ hours later, it resumed.

“My mom and I just went and sat in the car for a bit,” Otis said, “and when we saw the rain start to slowly die down, I went out to stretch my legs, so I wouldn’t get tight before I threw.

“I was just practicing my footwork.”

The throw was exactly two inches better than third-place Leah Acosta, a Midland Lee senior, who delivered her best throw on her fifth attempt.

Humble Atascocita senior Paris Kimble took control of the competition on her third attempt with a mark of 45-4½, and it held until she topped it with a gold-medal throw of 45-6¾ on her final heave.

Otis missed out on a medal in the event last year, placing fourth with a mark of 43-7¼, but she defied odds this season after entering with the field’s seventh-best seed mark behind Garland Sachse junior Favor Anyanwo, Acosta and Lewisville Marcus junior Emma Sralla among others. The trio placed first, second and third, respectively, at last year’s state meet.

“This definitely feels like redemption,” Otis said, “especially because those girls that beat me were in my reach. They were within my grasp.

“So, it just felt really good to beat them this year.”

And Otis’ day was just beginning.

Thanks to a rolling schedule accelerating the process following the weather delay, a mere two hours later, Otis returned to the field for the discus, but she was unable to replicate the success.

Otis placed eighth with a throw of 136-7 on her third attempt.

Posting a mark of 184-0, Sralla defended her championship in the event, while Acosta (159-7) was a distant second and Friendswood Clear Brook senior Kennedy Thompson (146-8) was third.

While Otis was unable to cap off her high school career with a pair of medals, she takes pride in knowing she came close to becoming just the third Lady Knight in school history to place first at state.

In 2010, Melissa Mays and Aliese Hyde earned the program’s lone gold medals at state, winning the triple jump and 800-meter run, respectively.

“Coming into Harker Heights,” Otis said, “I had really high expectations. My middle school coaches told me that it would be a whole different level, and I’ve had some issues, but I moved past them.

“I’m just really glad that I kept improving, and I’m able to say I made it to state twice.”


  • 1, Paris Kimble. Humble Atascocita, sr. 45-6.75
  • 2, Keonna Otis, Harker Heights, sr., 43-10.75
  • 3, Leah Acosta, Midland Lee, sr., 43-8.75
  • 4, Janey Campbell, Katy Seven Lakes, soph., 43-6.25
  • 5, Ashlea Klam, Austin Vandegrift, sr., 43-0.50
  • 6, Emma Sralla, Flower Mound Marcus, sr., 42-5
  • 7, Jazmine Thompson, Harlingen, jr., 42-4.75
  • 8, Cornelia Watts, Klein Forest, sr., 42-3.5
  • 9, Favor Anyanwu, Sachse, jr., 38-11.25

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