Zachary coach Chris Carrier expected Kristian Jackson to be good.
Jackson wound up being more than good in her high school track debut at the LSU High School Indoor Classic.
The freshman was simply the best, winning the girls shot put and grabbing Outstanding In-State Field Performer honors at the Carl Maddox Field House.
“Just to see her throw and compete in a meet was something,” Carrier said. “I’ve gotten to see her practice, but this is a different environment and she did well.”
Jackson’s effort of 40 feet, 3 inches was one of several highlights for Baton Rouge area performers who chose to open their indoor seasons at LSU on Saturday.
The annual meet attracted a number of out-of-state teams, including those from Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Georgia.
None of that seemed to faze Jackson, who uncorked her winning toss on her first attempt.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Jackson said. “I think I exceeded what I thought I might do. It (the 40-3 toss) was my first one, and the others were all in the 38 range. I’m happy with that.”
Jackson was part of a Zachary effort that included a victory by sophomore sprint standout Janie O’Connor.
However, Jackson and Catholic High’s Nigel Despinasse were two of the most impressive performers early in the meet. Despinasse won the boys shot put with a toss of 56-0, a mark nearly a foot better than his previous personal best.
Jackson’s mark was nearly two feet better than the No. 2 girls competitor. Despinasse’s toss was almost six feet longer than the second-place finisher.
“Usually when I have a really good throw it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything special,” Despinasse said. “I’ve gotten used to it, so I thought the throw would be good. But I didn’t expect 56-0. I screamed ‘yes’ and high-fived my teammate.”
As good as Despinasse’s win was, the boys Outstanding In-State Field Performer honor went to Lafayette freshman Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, who set an age-group record while winning the pole vault in 16-1.
O’Connor was just as crucial to Zachary’s effort as Jackson. She won the 60-meter dash in an impressive 7.64 seconds and was part of the Broncos’ 4x200 relay team that placed second to the meet’s top out-of-state team, South Florida-based Hallandale.
The Outstanding In-State Track Performer honors went to New Orleans area distance runners Devyn Keith and Gabrielle Jennings. Keith of John Curtis won the boys honor and was the day’s only double winner, placing first in the 800 and 1,600. First Baptist Christian’s Jennings won the girls 1,600.
One of the day’s top races was the boys 3,200 meters — a duel between Ascension Catholic’s Zach Capello and Catholic’s Jeffrey Kelley.
Capello edged Kelley at the finish line, winning in 9 minutes, 43.93 seconds, a fraction of a second ahead of Kelley, who finished in 9:43.98. Catholic won the 4x800 relay in 8:13.34.
Zachary’s Darryl Anderson (high jump), Catholic’s Pierce Hill (1,600 meters) and Southern Lab’s Xavier Bell (400) all finished second.
Hallandale won six events and took home two notable individual honors. HHS’ Aisha Nelson tied the Maddox record of 5-8 while winning the girls high jump and was voted the Outstanding Out-of-State Field Performer. Oliver Alexandre of Hallandale won the boys 400 and was voted the Outstanding Out-of-State Track Performer.
Long jump champion Jaykree Ramsey of Hattiesburg (Miss.) was the boys Outstanding Out-of-State Field Performer. The other 400 champion, Kayla Heard of Young Achievers Track Club, was the girls Outstanding Out-of-State Track Performer.