COMMERCE – Anna senior Tamaya Tutson claimed the gold medal in the 400-meter dash on Saturday, April 28, at the Class 4A Region II Track and Field Championships at Texas A&M-Commerce, punching her ticket to the state meet in Austin, May 11-12.

Tutson’s first-place time was 57.73 seconds, topping Dallas Carter’s Legend Harris by nearly a full second. Tutson entered the meet with the region’s fastest time and she backed it up when it counted most.

“Tamaya just did amazing today,” Anna head coach Scott O’Connor said. “It’s something that we have been working on and something she has been looking forward to for weeks, and probably years if you want to look back to her track career. She has held together with poise unlike any young lady I have ever seen. It’s a testament to her training, her commitment and her character. You can’t coach the character she has. … That wasn’t easy. It was a tough field and there were a lot of variables in there that could’ve made her run out of her element, and she just stuck to the plan.”

“I feel overwhelmed,” Tutson said shortly after stepping down from the medal stand. “I know I worked really hard to get here and I’m glad I made it. I pushed myself to get to state my senior year. … I was really nervous because I know there were a lot of girls that wanted the same thing I wanted. I had to push myself more than ever.”

Other Lady Coyote regional competitors included Caroline Boykin, who finished eighth in the 1,600-meter finals with a time of 5 minutes, 41.47 seconds, and Madison Hemenway who placed 11th in the 3,200 meters with a time of 12 minutes, 40.55 seconds.“They both ran gritty races,” O’Connor said, “where they followed the plan, tried giving themselves opportunities to get to state. But it wasn’t their day and we fell short of our goal. They ran tough and left everything on the track.”

The Anna girls 4×400 relay of Jazmin Pender, Rachael Readus, Jada Ramirez and Tutson endured what O’Connor called “the heartbreak of the night.” The team, with Hayleigh Wagner running second in prelims, reached the finals in fourth place among eight remaining teams. “During the finals,” O’Connor said, “Jazmin Pender ran first in the race of her life. Rachael Readus was running a great second leg until a competitor from Dallas Lincoln tripped her from behind causing Rachael to fall flat onto the track.” Still, the Lady Coyotes finished sixth with a time of 4 minutes, 9.75 seconds.

“We ran one of the fastest times we have all season,” O’Connor said, “but the opportunity to make it to state was taken away. We protested and won the protest, but finishing times can’t be changed unless you run again — by yourself. This would be very hard to do just 30 minutes after the race and the girls and coaches elected not to rerun it.”

O’Connor noted that Precious Antwi and Adriana Sanchez also played key roles in this relay’s success this year. “Please support them in any way you can,” O’Connor said of the whole group. “It was a tough way for the season to abruptly end for them.”

The Lady Coyotes’ team placed 15th overall out of about 50 schools represented at regionals. Dallas Carter finished first, followed by Tatum and Kilgore.

On the Anna boys side, Josh Abara reached regionals in the 200-yard dash but didn’t qualify for the finals. Nor did the 4×200-meter relay team of Kareem Mason, Warren Mason, Aaron Lee and Abara.

“Our 4×200 relay came in with a tough climb to make it to finals on Saturday, qualifying 15th,” Coyotes head coach Jeremy Patton said. “I asked the men after they ran if they did their best and all of them said yes. I told them that we have the toughest region in the state and there are days when your best just isn’t good enough. With Abara graduating, his speed will be missed.”