As the son of one of LSU’s greatest pole vault specialists and the younger brother of a current LSU vaulter, you’d expect Armand “Mondo” Duplantis to feel right at home at Carl Maddox Field House.
What the Lafayette High freshman did at the LSU High School Indoor Classic on Saturday went well beyond the typical comfort zone. Duplantis won the boys pole vault by clearing 16 feet, 1 inch.
The mark set an age-group record for the 15-year-old who practices in a backyard pit under the watchful eye of his father, former LSU All-American Greg Duplantis.
“My goal was to make 16 feet in my first high school meet,” Duplantis said. “I’ve been to a lot of meets, but I was a little nervous because this was my first high school meet.
“We have a pit in our backyard, and we’ve been jumping in the cold. And this was a lot better than jumping in the cold.”
Duplantis was selected the Outstanding In-State Field Performer for the annual meet that helped kick off the indoor season. The meet attracted competitors from several states, including Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia.
Though a number of Louisiana teams opted to pass up this early meet, choosing instead to concentrate on two later qualifying meets, Duplantis punctuated an impressive effort by Acadiana area competitors.
Take the boys pole vault as a case in point. The top three finishers were from Acadiana schools. Westgate’s Cole Courtois was second at 15-0, followed by North Vermilion’s Kaleb Derouen (14-0).
Duplantis generated some excitement as he cleared 16-1 and made three attempts at 16-4¾. His effort came the day after his older brother Andreas cleared 17-1 to place second for LSU at its LSU Invitational.
Other Acadiana highlights: Crowley’s Damon Guidry won the high jump (6-4). Northside’s Christian Miller was the triple jump champion in 45-5¼.
Duplantis also was not the only freshman to garner top honors. Zachary’s Kristian Jackson won the girls Outstanding In-State Field Performer honor after winning the shot put in 40-3.
South Florida-based Hallandale High topped he out-of-state teams by winning six events, including two of the three boys relays. Hallandale’s Aisha Nelson tied the Maddox record by winning the girls high jump with a 5-8 leap. Nelson was the girls Outstanding Out-of-State Field Performer, while HHS’ Oliver Alexandre garnered the boys Outstanding Out-of-State Track Performer after winning the 400 meters in 49.53 seconds.
Kayla Heard of Florida’s Young Achievers Track Club also won the 400 (57.44) and was the girls Outstanding Out-of-State Track Performer. Hattiesburg’s Jaykree Ramsey, the long jump champion in 22-6, was the boys Outstanding Out-of-State Field Performer.
New Orleans area distance runners Devyn Keith and Gabrielle Jennings claimed the Outstanding In-State Track Performers. Keith of John Curtis was the lone double winner, winning the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 29.76 seconds and the 800 in 1:59.42. First Baptist Christian’s Jennings won the girls 1,600 in 5:09.12.