Holden’s Clarissa Smith tries to keep races in perspective _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Holden's Clarissa Smith takes first place in the Division II Girls 3200 Meter Run of the LHSAA Indoor Championships held in LSU's Carl Maddox Field House Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. MAGS OUT / INTERNET OUT/ONLINE OUT/NO SALES/TV OUT/FOREIGN OUT/LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC. OUT/GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT OUT/225 OUT/10/12 OUT/IN REGISTER OUT/LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS OUT/MANDATORY CREDIT THE ADVOCATE/ Heather McClelland

Clarissa Smith wants to find the competitive balance for her final high school track meet.

The Holden distance runner also seeks at least one personal best while facing a familiar foe as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Track & Field meet begins Thursday at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium.

“I plan on going out and giving it my all,” Smith said. “The last couple of years I think I’ve made this meet too big, and I don’t think I’ve done as well because of that. That was a lot of pressure.

“I won’t have the pressure of this being my last race, and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, I can run my best and maybe get a PR (personal record), which hasn’t happened so far this year.”

The meet for teams in Class B and C begins at 1:30 p.m. with field events. Running events start at 5 p.m. Competitors from the smallest classifications step into the spotlight on the first day of the three-day meet.

Teams in Class 1A and 2A compete Friday, followed by competition for 3A, 4A and 5A on Saturday.

Smith, a Southeastern Louisiana University signee, is part of a girls distance running story line that will likely unfold Thursday night.

One of Louisiana’s most heralded distance runners, sophomore Gabrielle Jennings, of Slidell’s First Baptist Christian is back again to grab headlines in Class C.

In addition to competing in the traditional distance events, the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, Jennings has added the 400 meters. She’s also seeded first in that event.

The Class B competition between Smith and Patrick Taylor’s Ceila Zaeringer also will be intriguing.

The two runners have competed against each other for more than two years in track and cross country.

Smith edged Zaeringer at the LHSAA State Cross Country meet last fall, winning the three-mile race in 19 minutes, 6.29 seconds, a little more than two seconds faster than Zaeringer.

Zaeringer edged Smith in the 1,600 meters at last week’s regional meet by less than a second and was 18 seconds faster in the 3,200.

Smith has the top entry mark in the 800, an event Zaeringer isn’t running.

Because Zaeringer is set to sign with SLU, the two runners will likely be teammates and possibly even roommates.

“I’m expecting both the races to be good,” Smith said.

Jehovah-Jireh’s Randy Carter, Jr. is another distance runner to watch. Carter has the top entry marks in the Class C boys’ 1,600, 800 and 3,200. Caleb Moses of Family Christian ranks among the leaders in the Class C boys sprints.

Louisiana School for the Deaf’s Justin Flannery has the top mark in the Class C boys triple jump.

Hosanna Christian’s Jeremy Williams has the top mark in the Class B boys triple jump.