DREAM CHASING: Miller discusses Lady Tigers setting new marks during State Championship

May 16—On the back of the Tahlequah Lady Tigers' track shirts is a phrase that reads, "Those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price will be the ones who will be successes."

Even though the Lady Tigers didn't walk away with a State Championship this season, head coach Elzy Miller thought his team's performance at the event was up to par.

"Anytime you can come down here and get a personal record, you do what you want to do," Miller said. "We didn't come down here with false expectations of a State title. When you do that, you can't ask any more of the kids; our kids worked hard and put in the effort down here."

Overall, the Tigers had new school records in the girls' 800, with McKenna Hood, and the 4x100 — Kynley Frazier, Khloe Frazier, Lakyn Adams, and Riley Dotson. Along with setting school records, nearly everyone set a new personal best in their events, according to Miller.

Throughout the two-day event, the Lady Tigers and the rest of the field had to endure tough conditions. With temperatures reaching near 90 degrees accompanied by high humidity, it was the hottest meet of the season. The heat made recovery difficult for some runners.

"It wasn't the greatest conditions because of the heat and humidity, but I thought we competed as well as anyone there, and I was proud," Miller said.

The close of the State Championship marked the end of the line for a trio of Lady Tigers. McKenna Hood, Tori Pham and Kori Rainwater have been key parts of the Lady Tigers team throughout their careers.

"Those kids are team leaders; they are kids that other kids look up to," Miller said. "If there is anything that the next group of athletes can do, it is take their work ethic. Whatever they do, they will be successful. We always hate to lose seniors because it is hard to replace them."

Hood finished her time picking up fifth place in the 800-meter race setting a school record with a time of 2.20:73. Just a couple of races later, Hood scored sixth place in the mile race with a time of 5:32.44. During the final race of the day for 5A girls, Hood snared a couple of spots in the 4x400 relay to give the Lady Tigers third place.

Pham didn't have her best weekend, thanks to some stomach issues, according to Miller. Despite this, Pham was one of the Lady Tigers' most improved athletes of the season.

"For the most part of the year, [she was] winning most of the 3200s. She didn't feel well on day one, but gave it her best," Miller said.

After making the State Championship last season, Rainwater took seventh place in the discus, unleashing a throw of 114' 8".

Now that the season is over, Hood will focus her attention on collegiate-level sports at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for cross country and track. Rainwater will also be heading into the collegiate athletic level, but on the basketball court. The senior is set to continue her highly touted basketball career and serve her country in the U.S. Air Force.

Pham will be attending Oklahoma State University, where she will pursue a degree in meteorology, according to Miller.

Despite the Lady Tigers' losing some exceptional players this season, their foundation looks to be solid, Miller said. The seniors weren't the only athletes from THS showing out at the State Championship, either. THS will return a strong core of Lakyn Adams, Riley Dotson, and Khloe Frazier, amongst others.

"We have the nucleus to have another good one," Miller said. "I think it is going to be another banner year next year. I think we have some of the best nuclei in a long time. We will miss the seniors, but they will do well with what they will do."

Along with a solid core of returning athletes, the Lady Tigers are expecting a solid batch of junior high athletes to join the high school ranks.

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