ANNA – Tamaya Tutson, Anna’s school-record holder in the 400-meter dash and a state silver-medalist, will soon be running for the University of Texas at Arlington after a year at Rogers State University. As a freshman at RSU, Tutson set school records in the 400 meters and as a member of the Hillcats’ 4-by-400 relay team, but the situation there changed.

“I switched schools because my sprint coach resigned,” she said on July 3 at Coyote Stadium. “And they’re turning the (RSU) track team into a distance program.”

As for her time as a Hillcat, Tutson noted that juggling track with college had been an eye-opening experience.

“Workouts are a lot harder,” she said of college track. “Snd it’s more time-consuming. But I finished strong.”

Tutson dropped her times in both the 400 and the 200 meters to 56.73 seconds and 25.37 seconds, respectively, the former being a new RSU record.

Tutson said she’s looking forward to being closer to home at UTA. While at RSU, in far northeast Oklahoma, she was nearly 250 miles from Anna.

John Sauerhage is head coach of the UTA men’s and women’s track and field program, a position he’s held since 1996. During that time, Sauerhage has compiled 31 conference team championships — including indoor, outdoor and cross country campaigns. UTA is a member of the Sunbelt Conference and competes at the NCAA FBS (Division I) level, a step-up for Tutson from NCAA Division II Rogers State.

“Coach Sauerhage, his team is like his family,” Tutson said. “He doesn’t have kids so he treats everyone that he takes in as family and he makes sure that everyone is getting what they need to get done. And he makes sure everyone gets the same work.”

“Tamaya will work hard and continue to improve,” Sauerhage said via email. “She is a very impressive young lady. We’re excited she will be a part of our UTA track family. She will be with a good group of 400(-meter) runners which will be fantastic for her development.”

As a senior for the Lady Coyotes in 2018, Tutson claimed the 400-meter silver medal at the Class 4A state meet with a time of 57.59 seconds — besting her Anna school record of 57.73 set days earlier with a gold medal at the Region II meet. While at Anna, Tutson was also on the regional-qualifying 4-by-400-meter relay team and ran the 100, the 200 and the 4-by-200.

“She has done great things at Rogers State,” Anna girls track and field head coach Scott O’Connor said, also via email. “She has transitioned well into collegiate running. I think her transition to D-I running will be just as smooth. She has always been a hard worker and has bought into training, ever since she started with her dad many years ago as a youngster.

“I have met Coach Sauerhage at a coaching clinic and was so impressed with his knowledge, expertise and understanding of what coaching takes at every level. … I am 100-percent sure Tamaya is going to not just excel, but thrive and improve beyond what we have seen from her the past few years.”

Tutson has made a change in her studies as well — switching her major from Entrepreneurship to Business Management with a minor in Sports Management.

Tutson is the daughter of Alonzo and Anastasia Tutson. Besides working out this summer, Tamaya Tutson is helping her father with his local track club, TOTR.

“I’m able to impart what I’ve learned as a runner,” she said. “Techniques I’ve learned from my dad, or (Anna assistant track) Coach (Tomika) Crosby and Coach O’Connor. … I teach them techniques that helped me with my form and my breathing techniques. I get them to understand that it’s something you can’t learn overnight. It takes time and it takes practice. You have to be really dedicated to doing track if you want to be great at it.”

Tutson should know — and soon she’ll be showing that dedication as a UTA Lady Maverick. Asked if she expects to keep dropping those times, Tutson had one word and a smile. “Yes.”