AUSTIN — Michaela Mouton’s comeback is officially complete.
One year ago, Killeen’s standout runner was set to compete for the sport’s ultimate prize, but due to an injury before the state meet, the then-junior was forced to pull out of the 400-meter race — the only event she qualified for.
While the experience was painful, it eventually resulted in pure pleasure.
Mouton returned to Mike A. Myers’ Stadium on Friday, when she made up for her prior absence by placing first in the 400 at the University Interscholastic League Class 5A Track & Field State Championships.
With a time of 53.21 seconds, Mouton completed an unblemished run to the program’s first gold medal since 2007.
Tiffany Townsend was the last Lady Kangaroo to accomplish the feat, winning the 100 and 200 with times of 11.21 and 22.84, respectively.
Quanta Anderson is the only other Lady Kangaroo to ever win the 200 at state. She accomplished the feat twice, earning gold medals in the event in both 1996 and 1998.
Mouton also captured the District 22 (53.79), area (54.45) and Region III (54.65) titles in the event before securing the state championship.
Midlothian Heritage freshman Angel Brefo was Mouton’s closest competition, finishing second with a time of 54.37, while Frisco Heritage junior Brooke Freeman was third (54.78).
Although she provided the highlight of the day for Killeen, the Lady Kangaroos had other reasons to celebrate after qualifying for state in four events.
Mouton literally helped anchor the program’s banner day by also running the final leg of the team’s second-place 400 relay team.
The quartet of Aaliyah Barnes, Naomi Sanders, Abigail Mouton and Michaela Mouton recorded their best time of the postseason, finishing in 46.41 to earn the silver medal.
Despite placing first at the District 22, area and Region III meets with times of 47.80, 47.16 and 47.25, respectively, the Lady Kangaroos entered with the field’s sixth-best seed.
With a time of 46.08, last season’s silver medalist Lancaster edged out Killeen for the state title, while defending champion Mansfield Timberview was third, sitting one-hundredth of a second behind the Lady Kangaroos.
The foursome of Aniyah Grant, Barnes, Raven Clark and Michaela Mouton could not replicate the success in the 1,600 relay, though.
Entering with the field’s fourth-best seed time of 3:53.16 after winning the regional title, the Lady Kangaroos were eighth in the event’s standings, finishing in 3:59.49.
Comal Smithson Valley (3:46.82) beat out Lucas Lovejoy (3:47.89) by more than a second to place first.
Killeen won the district (3:52.61), area (3:54.85) and regional (3:53.16) titles en route to reaching state.
Like the 1,600 relay team, Barnes, a sophomore, also produced a perfect showing on her way to competing for the 200 state title, but her time of 24.31 was only good for fifth place.
Barnes won the district championship in 24.57 and was first at area and regionals with times of 24.74 and 24.40, respectively.
Smithson Valley sophomore Alyssa Jones emerged with the 200 state championship, crossing the finish line in 23.59.
Thanks to all the combined efforts, Killeen finished sixth in the final team standings, scoring 28 points.
Smithson Valley tallied 62 points to win the team title, while Lovejoy (48) and Lancaster (46) were second and third, respectively.
While Ellison and Lake Belton were also in attendance, combining to take part in three events, the Lady Kangaroos were the only area team to produce points at the state meet.
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