Sean Washington has already won a state championship.
The New Iberia Senior High School track and field star doesn’t have a medal for that accomplishment or even a framed newspaper clipping hanging on the wall of the proud moment. That’s because Washington’s championship moment lasted for only a few minutes.
As a sophomore, Washington ran 1:54.59 in the 800-meter dash at the LHSAA Outdoor Track & Field State Championships in Baton Rouge. He crossed the finish line believing that he had won the event only to have officials disqualify him for the breaking the line too early.
In a moment, Washington went from unbelievable joy to gut-wrenching disappointment.
“When I crossed the line I thought I was state champion,” Washington said. “I was extremely excited to see that I had won, but then I was disqualified. I was shocked that it happened. Even though I was DQ’d, I still knew that I ran that time.”
Washington will look to bring home the title that was taken from him two years ago at this week’s state meet at Bernie Moore Stadium at LSU. Classes 3A-5A will compete on Saturday with track events starting at 3:30 p.m.
“I would feel totally accomplished as a runner,” Washington said. “Everything that I have done from freshman year to now would be a complete success.”
“I know that I am a little biased,” New Iberia coach Scott Trahan said. “But if I had to put my money on somebody, I would put it on him.”
Washington made an immediate impact for the Yellow Jackets as a freshman, running a season-best 2:07 in the 800-meter run, which has become his signature event. He would run under two minutes as a sophomore and advanced to the state meet, where he also helped the 4x400 relay team placed third. He then ran 1:55.79 at the state meet last year for a third-place finish and just .78 seconds behind state champion Jack Wilkes of Airline.
Washington’s rise to one of the area’s most accomplished track stars has less to with natural ability and more to do with his work ethic, which he admittedly had to work on.
“My mentality has always been that I don’t like to lose,” Washington said. “I am always thinking that I am going to try to do my best to pass them. The big difference is that I am not as lazy as I was then, especially with training. I know that hard work is going to get me the times that I want.”
“Sean is one of those guys that the pain is worth it,” Trahan said. “For him the victory is worth all that pain. There are very few guys that are like that.”
The Yellow Jackets star has gotten most of the times he has wanted this year as he has dominated both the indoor and outdoor track and field this season.
At the LHSAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in February, Washington won the Division I 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.92 and also anchored NISH’s 4x400 relay team that won state with a run of 3:29.13.
Washington has carried that momentum into the outdoor season. He won the 800-meter at the District 3-5A meet (1:58.46) and again anchored the champion 4x400 relay team (3:20.11). He then improved on both of those times at regionals, winning first in the process, with a run of 1:54.71 in the 800-meter and helping his team with a 3:18.08 in the relays.
He did all that in spite of tweaking his hamstring during the Ram Relays earlier in the season.
“Considering where he left off last year,” Trahan said. “That 1:57 indoor time kind of translates to 1:54 outdoor. We knew that he was getting ready to run that this season.”
As great as it would be to win the 800-meter run at state, the Western Texas College signee would be even more thrilled to help his 4x400 relay teammates (Blake Comeaux, Josh Hamilton and Austin Stolz) take home the state championship.
“It is more exciting for me to run the relays than the 800 sometimes,” Washington said. “The whole team are really good runners. Just having my teammates and knowing they are depending on me. It makes want to run even faster.”