Jehovah-Jireh coach Dirk Ricks laughs just a little when he thinks about the first time Randy Carter Jr. came to track practice as seventh-grader three years ago.

“I told him to start running and he did,” Ricks said. “He didn’t stop until practice was over. I knew we had the potential for something special then. Randy continues to impress me every day.”

Carter, a sophomore, helps lead the Baton Rouge contingent into the first day of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Outdoor Track & Field meet set for Thursday at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium.

Competition for schools in Class B-C begins with field events at 1:30 p.m. Running events follow at 5 p.m. The three-day meet continues Friday with competition for Class 1A and 2A and concludes Saturday with teams in Class 5A, 4A and 3A vying for state titles.

Defending champion New Living Word and tradition power Johnson Bayou are among the Class C boys teams to watch. Defending girls champion Hackberry also is again a heavy favorite.

Carter, voted the Outstanding Performer a year ago as a ninth-grader, won all three distance events in that meet and is favored again, though he will battle Holy Rosary standout Alex Lewis.

“With Randy and the other guys we’re bringing we have a lot of quality,” Ricks said. “We should score well in the events we have people in. Will it be enough to get us on the awards stand? I don’t know.”

Louisiana School for the Deaf coach Ben Cupit faces a similar scenario. The LSD girls were fourth a year ago and are led by senior sprinter/hurdler Akela Fellows, who is seeded first in the 100 meters and 300 hurdles. The War Eagles’ Justin Flannery is favorite in the long jump and triple jump.

“We feel like we have Akela and Alexa Powell for the girls and Justin Flannery for the boys who should do real well,” Cupit said. “I’ve been around the state meet long enough to know anything is possible. Hackberry is going to be way out there for the girls and with the Jennings’ girls in the distance races, First Baptist of Slidell, also will score well.”

First Baptist’s Gabrielle Jennings won four individual events a year and, including sweeping the girls distance races in Class C. She is considered Louisiana’s top girls distance runner. Younger sister Madelyn Jennings ranks close behind.

Simsboro edged Centerville to win the Class B boys title last spring. Weston and Episcopal School of Acadiana were the top finishers in the Class B girls competition.

Distance specialist Samantha Withers helps lead the ESA girls. Maurepas’ Trevon Burn is the top seed in the boys pole vault.