Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Angry relay team makes DeSoto girls happy
AUSTIN — As the DeSoto girls expanded their lead with each leg of the 4x400-meter relay Saturday night, they didn’t just look focused, or intense, or driven. They actually looked angry as they made their way around the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
They didn’t just look that way.
“We weren’t doing too good in some races, and we just took our anger out on the 4x400,” Chrishuna Williams said. “Because we wanted to win.”
DeSoto did win at the University Interscholastic League track meet, and not just the final event of the night. With 20 points in the event, DeSoto leaped over Garland and Mansfield Timberview to win the Class 5A girls team title.
DeSoto finished with 51 points, and Garland (48) and Timberview (42) were two of a whopping eight Dallas-area teams in the top 10. Skyline, the three-time defending champion, was seventh.
“It feels great,” Williams said. “I’m still a little in shock.”
She wasn’t the only one. Garland didn’t have a team in the event, but Timberview had a 38-31 lead on DeSoto and a relay team expected to challenge for the 4x400 title. Timberview finished fifth in the event, earning only four points.
Timberview, the 4A champion two years ago, claimed its team was impeded on a handoff and filed a protest. But when the results became official, the DeSoto girls were able to exchange hugs and raise the state championship trophy.
A few minutes earlier, it looked like DeSoto would again be runner-up. Anna Robinson got DeSoto rolling with a midday win in the long jump, but the evening started with a fourth-place finish in the 4x100. The DeSoto 4x200 team ran more than a second faster than its previous best, but that was only good enough for sixth. Garland won both events to jump out in front.
DeSoto’s Tia Gamble ran a personal best of 43.52 seconds in the 300 hurdles, but she was fourth in the event, won by Timberview’s Ashley Burris.
“Most of our girls were running quite well,” DeSoto coach June Villers said, “but it just wasn’t the point total we expected.”
And so the tension grew as Garland and Timberview rose to the top of the standings and the sun began sinking behind the stands. DeSoto looked like it might fall short of the “We came to conquer” plan printed on its shirts.
“We were scared,” Williams said. “We knew the competition was going to be tough.”
They also knew it was going to come down to the final event. And even if the 4x400 squad couldn’t win the meet, it wanted to win the event.
“Make it happen,” their coach told them, and at least DeSoto would finish on a high note.
The 4x400 team finished on a very high note, winning by more than three seconds. Moments later, cheers grew and tears emerged as DeSoto realized the final-event turnaround had made it a champion.
“I was crying before the 4x400,” Villers said. “And after.”