Lafayette High’s Armand “Mondo” Duplantis was seated on a bench shaking his head, almost in disbelief, as LSU track announcer Mike Boyer summed up what happened.
“When you woke up this morning, did you ever think you’d see the best that ever was?” Boyer asked the crowd at the LSU High School Last Chance Qualifier meet. The answer was a resounding cheer.
Duplantis, a sophomore, had just set a national high school indoor record by winning the boys pole vault in 18 feet, ½ inch, providing an unexpected highlight at a meet that was supposed to be all about competitors trying to qualify for the LHSAA High School Indoor meet Feb. 20.
“My goal has been to go 18 feet, and I thought it was possible,” Duplantis said. “But I didn’t know it would happen today. To be honest with you, all I remember about the last few jumps was starting and then it was over. It’s kind of a blur. That usually happens at the higher heights.”
Rest assured, there were enough people at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House to fill in the blanks Saturday. The other top competitors remained on the track to watch Duplantis’ sequence of jumps.
Duplantis, the son of former LSU vaulter Greg Duplantis, entered the competition at 16 feet. After setting the high school field house record at 17-10½, Duplantis told meet officials to move the bar to 18-0½.
He missed his first two attempts before clearing the bar on the third. Duplantis was celebrating as he hit the cushioned pit.
The effort by Duplantis and two other boys field-event wins provided the biggest Lafayette area highlights. Northside High’s Christian Miller won long jump, while Crowley’s Damon Guidry won the high jump in 6-4. The Lafayette High girls won the 4x400-meter relay, edging two other Class 5A powers.
Miller, an LSU track signee, won his indoor debut in the long jump in 21-11½, a mark that is well off his personal best of 23-6.
The Lafayette girls ran the winning 4x400 time of 4 minutes, 9.53 seconds, just ahead of Zachary and Mandeville.
“Overall, I was pleased, but I didn’t feel like I was getting off the board correctly,” Miller said. “The speed was right, just not getting off the board. But since this is my first meet to do the long jump, I’ll take it. I feel like I can do better.”
Franklin’s Kyren Webb (boys 60-meter hurdles), Catholic-New Iberia’s Reagann Leleux (girls pole vault) and Erath’s Lindsay Darby (girls triple jump) were second-place finishers.
Duplantis wasn’t the only meet record-setter. John Curtis’ Devyn Keith (800 meters) and Corey Wren (60 meters), Catholic-Baton Rouge’s Nigel Despinasse (shot put) set boys meet records.
Live Oak’s Ashley Davis (shot put) and Zachary’s Janie O’Connor (400 meters) set girls meet records.
When asked about his goals for the LHSAA indoor meet, Duplantis didn’t promise another record. He did, however, promise to work for one.
“My goal is to get better every day,” Duplantis said. “I still think there are so many things I can do better technically. There’s still a lot left I can do to improve.”