ANNA – A large crowd of friends, teammates, coaches and family were on hand Thursday, May 24, in the Anna High School library to witness talented Lady Coyote sprinter Tamaya Tutson sign her National Letter of Intent to attend Rogers State University. Anna’s school-record holder in the 400-meter dash and fresh off a silver-medal turn at the Class 4A state meet in Austin, Tutson made it official as her parents Alonzo and Anastasia Tutson looked on.

Adding a bit of suspense, Tutson chose not to reveal her school choice until this occasion. The announcement was preceded by a stirring video of some of her greatest moments on the track, a presentation prepared by her father.

“I’m really excited because I’ve been waiting, I’ve been holding it in,” Tutson said. “Everybody has been asking me where I wanted to go and I’ve been, like, ‘Wait till the signing.’ I wanted to share the moment with all of them. I’m really happy that it turned out to be the way I wanted it to be.”

Rogers State, an NCAA Division II school located in Claremore, Okla., competes in track and field in the Great American Conference. Tutson said she was impressed with everything at RSU, including Hillcats head coach Chris McCormick. “The people are great and the team there is very excited. They already were telling me, ‘We’ll see you soon,’ like they just knew I was going to sign with them. They had faith in me coming there. I loved the school.”

At the 4A state meet earlier this month, Tutson posted a 400 time of 57.59 seconds, missing gold by less than a second. She preceded that race with a gold-medal time of 57.73 at the Region II meet at Texas A&M-Commerce.

For her final season at Anna, Tutson concentrated on the 400 and also anchored the regionally-qualifying 4x400 relay team, a relay she’s run her entire Lady Coyotes career. Also during her time at Anna, she has excelled in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and in the 4x200-meter relay.

Tutson lists her father as a big role model in her life, as well as Lady Coyotes’ assistant track coach Tomika Crosby and former head track coach Hoot Jones. “They’re the ones that got me interested in track when I move here [in seventh grade],” she said. She also credits Anna first-year head coach Scott O’Connor for helping her get to the next level her senior year. “He knew the new workouts that needed to be done to help me get to where I needed to be,” Tutson said.

“I’m extremely happy for her,” O’Connor said. “She’s had a lot of colleges contact her and she’s been going back and forth. To see her happy with her decision, it means the world.” He added that RSU is “a great institution” that will provide “a great culture and a great family of a track team.”

“This is awesome,” Alonzo said. “We have building up to this since middle school. It’s very fulfilling. I’m proud of her, not only on the track but most importantly in the classroom. Taking AP courses with a 3.5 GPA, that’s not easy to do — and also working at Sonic. It’s truly a blessing for this day to come. And this is only the beginning. This is just the foundation.”

In that video, Tutson’s parents are heard loud and clear, shouting encouragement as their daughter kicks down the stretch in several races. “I wouldn’t get my voice back until the day before the next meet,” Alonzo laughed. “I told her, ‘If you don’t see me in the stands, you’ll always hear me.’”

Tutson’s brother Thad and sister Takaya were also on hand for the celebration, which included cupcakes, a cake and cool beverages. Said Tutson’s mom Anastasia, “She’s worked so hard and it’s just a blessing to see how far she’s come. We’re just very proud of her success today.” What did she and Alonzo try to instill their children? “Just operate with good morals and values,” Anastasia said. “Set goals for yourself and whatever you set your mind to, work hard to achieve it. Nothing is just dropped in your lap. You have to work hard for success.”