Ken Ward, Catholic High win big in Div. I state indoor track

Ken Ward’s jubilation was obvious. The Catholic High School senior leaped above the pad positioned behind the finish line. Ward had just made a little history, winning the 55-meter hurdles in 7.35 seconds, recording the nation’s top time.

Ward also helped the Bears on their fast track to another Division I state title at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Indoor track meet held Saturday at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House.

“My mindset was just one hurdle at a time … take one hurdle at a time,” Ward said. “I didn’t realize I ran that fast. The main thing was helping my team.”

Catholic won its seventh straight Division I crown. The Bears finished with 97 points to finish ahead of Covington’s St. Paul’s (38), Zachary (32) and Edna Karr (28).

Lafayette won the Division I girls title with 57 points, finishing ahead of 2012 champion Baton Rouge High (46), St. Louis Catholic (36) and McDonogh 35 30.

The Lafayette girls effort was led by Kaylei Esfeller, who won the 800 in 2:22.90 and placed third in the 1,600. Esfeller also ran the anchor leg on the Lions’ winning 4x800 relay team that posted a 10:00.38 time.

With Esfeller running the final leg, Lafayette passed both Baton Rouge High and St. Joseph’s Academy in the latter stages of the race. Also key was a third-place finish in the final running event, the 4x400 with Esfeller again running a pivotal leg.

“To run a 1,600 and then an 800 is tough enough,” Lafayette coach Ron Baillargeon said. “And she (Esfeller) had to run the leg on the 4x800 after that. We got points where we were supposed to and battled.”

The girls team race could have been closer. Baton Rouge High’s Mikiah Brisco fell in the final of the girls 55 hurdles and did not finish, but later came back to win the 55 meters in 7.02 to lead the Bulldogs.

Ward’s time also was a Division I mark for Catholic The Bears set another Division I mark by winning the 4x800-meter relay in 8 minutes, 8.37 seconds and later won the 4x400 in 3:26.95. Garret Broussard won with a toss of 52 feet, 6½ inches, while D.J. Woodard then won the 400 in 50.14.

“Normally in a state meet you have a few bobbles or something bad happen,” Catholic coach Pete Boudreaux said. “We got started in the shot put and kept on going.”

BRHS was led by Brisco, who set a torrid pace in the prelims with a meet-record time of 7.13 seconds in the 55 hurdles.

In the 55 final, Brisco edged out McDonogh 35’s Marcquita Stalbert (7.14), who won the 400 meters in 57.76. The BRHS girls won the 4x400 relay in 4:05.82.

“I couldn’t let one downfall ruin my day,” Brisco said.

“I had to get back up and race. I like competing with Marcquita because I know she gives it everything she has and so do the other girls.”

There was no shortage of other top competitors from Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Boys runner-up St. Paul’s was led by Zachary Albright, who set meet and field house records by winning the 1,600 meters in 4:19.31.

St. Paul’s also got first-place finishes from Kraemer Jackson in the 3,200 (10:02.64) and Cameron Robichaux in the pole vault (14-7). Archbishop Rummel’s Matthew Trammel won the high jump in 6-5, edging East Ascension’s Nick Brown based on fewer misses.

Central’s Craig Jones and Zachary’s Donald Gage were other was other BR boys winner. Jones leaped 44-4 ¼ in the final rounds to win the triple jump.

Gage won the long jump in 23-1, claiming his third indoor title. The Houston football signee won the Division II long jump for Redemptorist the previous two years.

McKinley’s Shakinah Abdul-Aziz was the other BR girls winner, taking first in the long jump in 18-2 ½. St. Scholastica’s Mary Grace Gitz (high jump, 5-5) and Vandebilt Catholic’s Alexa Breaux (3,200, 12:05.68) were other winners from the New Orleans/bayou region.

The day started with New Orleans teams winning the first relays, the 4x200 meters. McDonogh 35 won the girls race in 1:43.10 and Edna Karr won boys race in a meet-record time of 1:29.45.