It’s been nearly a week since Doyline’s girls track and field team brought home the LHSAA Class B championship trophy from the state meet in Baton Rouge.
That doesn’t mean the school has stopped celebrating.
The Lady Panthers’ title is the first in a team sport for Doyline since 1967.
“It’s been chaotic around here,” Doyline track coach Mike Norman said. “When we got back to the school, the entire student body was waiting for us in the gym, and we had an impromptu pep rally. It’s was a good feeling. Several of the older people from around town have popped into the gym to congratulate us. Shows people were paying attention.
“And the way we won was like a storybook.”
Doyline’s championship came down to the final event last Thursday night at LSU’s Bernie Moore track stadium. Doyline trailed Bell City by three points entering the 4X400-meter relay. Because Bell City didn’t have a 4X400 team running, the Lady Panthers, seeded fifth, just needed a fourth-place finish.
“I didn’t know we were going to win the championship until the final four strides on that 4X4,” Norman said. “I knew we had a chance going in, at least to get runner up, because I knew how tight the standings were. Chantrell Johnson ran an unbelievable third leg. She took us from fifth place all the way to first.
“It was about an hour wait to get to that point, with all of the other races like the two mile and things from Class C and from the boys side. So you know you have a chance to win, but you’re really nervous and just waiting for an hour. And I wasn’t sure we were going to win until the final 10 yards.”
Unlike her coach, Johnson knew she and her teammates would be carrying home the championship trophy as soon as she handed the baton to Kayla Thomas, who was able to keep Doyline in the top four.
“I knew it. I had confidence in her,” said Johnson, who also placed third in the long and triple jumps. “It was nerve-racking to watch (Thomas) finish. But it was really exciting, and I knew we could do it. After the way things went for most of the day, with everything so close, I was really nervous going into the 4X4. But I wasn’t thinking about that during the race. It was, ‘Just run.'”
Other Lady Panthers put the team’s 4X400 members (which included Bessie and Jasmine Waller) in position to grab the title.
Junior Shelby Waln won the shot put by setting a new Class B girls record with a 41-foot-7.25 throw. Senior Shanelle Allen also had a great day, winning the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 49.05, .14 of a second ahead of the second-place finisher.
Doyline’s final point total of 55 was one more than second-place Bell City and five more than third-place Fairview, which won the 4X400-meter relay.
“We had several girls step up for us,” Norman said. “I talked to Shanelle before she ran and told her she had an opportunity to go out on top individually and with the team. She did well right at the end and really pushed us other the top.”