“In the 800, I wanted to get out fast and make my move at 300 meters, and it worked out for me.” matthew rice, Runnels distance runner
There were record-setting individual performances and loads of personal bests.
Perhaps the best thing at the Class 2A competition at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm track meet was the diversity three team champions displayed.
John Curtis loaded up on points in the field events to claim the 2A boys title. The Patriots scored 87 points and held off a local team, Episcopal, which placed second with 68½. Calvary Baptist (59) was third on Thursday night at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Meanwhile, Hammond’s St. Thomas Aquinas and Newman-New Orleans emerged from a multi-team battle to tie for the girls title with 45 points each. Calvary (41) was close behind in third.
The 2A-1A meet opened the three days of LHSAA track championships at LSU. Competition continues tomorrow for Class B-C and concludes Saturday with competition for Class 3A, 4A and 5A.
“We had some adversity along the way,” Curtis coach Preston Curtis said. “But other guys stepped up, and that’s what it takes to win the big one.”
Curtis’ Malachi Dupree was voted the meet’s Outstanding Performer in the boys division after winning the triple jump in 45 feet, 6¾ inches. He also was second in the high jump and fourth in the long jump.
Triple winner Hailey Hesterman of Calvary Baptist was the Outstanding Performer for the girls. Hesterman set a record, winning the 800 in 2 minutes, 14.10 seconds. Hesterman also won the 1,600 (5:05.84) and the 3,200 (11:37.31).
St. Thomas Aquinas, Newman, Calvary, Alexandria’s Menard (36) and Episcopal (34) were part of the girls race.
“This was amazing,” STA girls coach Rosendo Vallejos said. “They just fought and persevered through everything. It really was anybody’s meet going into the last couple of events.
Episcopal’s effort included plenty of personal bests and one individual victory. Christian Johnson got the only win for the Knights, taking top honors in the 3,200 in 9:45.28, less than a second ahead of Lakeside’s Enrique Soto. Johnson also was second in the 1,600 and 800. Episcopal closed out the meet by placing second to Curtis in the 4x400 relay in 3:26.24 to 3:27.41.
“What a great finish,” Episcopal coach Claney Duplechin said. “Christian Johnson was so impressive. We had PRs across the board. I couldn’t ask for a better finish.”
Runnels’ Matthew Rice was a local double winner, taking top honors in the 1,600 meters in 4:21.55 seconds and the 800 in 1:57.89.
Redemptorist’s Donald Gage was another local winner, taking first in the long jump in 23-6¾.
“In the 800, I wanted to get out fast and make my move at 300 meters, and it worked out for me,” Rice said. “I won both races and had PRs in both, so it’s a good way to finish my (high school) career.”
There were two class record in the boys. Calvary Baptist’s Josh Lamers won the 110 hurdles in 13.86 seconds. St. Thomas Aquinas’ Craig Rock won the 300 hurdles in 37.78 seconds, with Episcopal’s Julian Darden also besting the previous record while placing second.
Rock was also second in the 110 hurdles (14.48). STA finished fourth with 44 points.
Episcopal got top three finishes from Tylor Harris (second, shot put, 57-81/2), Johnson (second, 1,600, 4:22.52 and 800, 1:58.91), Julian Darden (second, 300 hurdles), Michael Henry (third, discus, 149-2), Jarrell Rogers (third, triple jump, 43-10).
Pole vault champion Dylan Duvio won in 16-0 for Curtis and nearly set a class record. The Patriots also got wins from Duke Riley (discus) and Anthony Taylor (shot put) and Dupree (triple jump). The Pats’ Jacolby Cooper won the 400.
The first running event provided a glimpse of what would happen in the girls team title race. With Avrielle Steward running the anchor leg, St. Thomas Aquinas won the 4x200-meter relay in 1:43.92, one-hundreth of a second ahead of second-place Northeast.
STA had a double winner in Taylor Kast, who won the 100 hurdles (15.58) and the 300 hurdles (45.51).
The top five teams — Newman, STA, West St. Mary, Calvary Baptist and Episcopal — were separated by a total of seven points with just three events remaining.
Newman surged back to tie it with Haley Johnson taking a second-place finish in the 3,200.
B.T. Washington-Shreveport got two wins from Alexis Hewitt, who won the 100 (12.56 seconds) and 400 (57.53) and took second in the 200.
West St. Mary’s Gerianna Lyons was a double winner in the field, finishing first in the shot put (36-4½) and the discus (104-7).
The Episcopal girls got top three finishes from Kaithlyn Walker (second, high jump, 5-1), Erika Grant (third, long jump, 16-7), Nicole Newton (third, triple jump, 34-6¾),
Other local boys competitors who took stop three finishers were Dunham’s Daniel Megison (second, discus, 150-10) and Phillip Moody (second, javelin, 183-11), University’s Micah Green (second, long jump, 22-6 ½.),
The list of other top local girls finishers included Northeast’s Jaylen Cowan (second, 400, 59.10) and University’s Katie Sands (third, 300 hurdles, 47.16), UHS’ Gabby Despinasse (third, discus, 100-10). Northeast was second in the 4x200 relay (1:43.93) and third in the 4x400 (4:12.71).