There’s something to be said for perseverance.
The performance of Jehovah-Jireh’s Randy Carter Jr. helped prove that point Thursday night at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Track and Field meet.
Carter battled through seasonal allergies to win three events in the Class C boys competition on the first day of the three-day LHSAA event at the LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium. After winning the 1,600 meters earlier, Carter offered a blunt assessment of what the best part of the race was.
“The best part of it was to finish,” Carter said. “At the end of the first lap Alex (Lewis of Holy Rosary) passed me. That’s when I knew I had to pick it up.”
Carter won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 51.12 seconds and then came back to win the 800 (2:11.01) and the 3,200 (10:53.05). He also placed third in the 400 meters.
Carter’s performance was notable because the efforts of distance runners and teams that won state basketball titles two months ago were a big part of the story in Classes B and C. Carter was voted the Outstanding Boys Performer in Class C.
“I’m happy I won three events,” Carter said. “But I know I can do better.”
No star shined brighter than First Baptist Christian’s Gabrielle Jennings, who won all four of her individual events and broke her own record in three of them en route to Outstanding Girls Performer honors in Class C.
Jennings started by winning the 1,600 in a record mark of 5:05.98. She won the 800 with a record time of 5:24.81 and concluded the day with a win in the 3,200 in 11:30.85. In between, the sophomore won the 400 in 1:02.26. She now has 30 state titles combined in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.
“We have the possibility of getting second,” Jennings said of the decision to do four individual events for her Slidell-based school. “It’s really good publicity for the school. Everybody gets to receive credit for what they’ve done when we place higher as a team.”
New Living Word and Hackberry claimed team titles in Class C to add to the basketball titles already won in March. Ruston-based New Living Word tallied 122 points to win the boys title ahead of Johnson Bayou (81), Epps (56) and Jehovah-Jireh (50).
Hackberry, located near Lake Charles, also won a state title in softball last week. HHS finished with 190 points. Epps (84) was second, placing ahead of First Baptist (67) and Louisiana School for the Deaf.
The day’s other record-setter was Hackberry’s Reagan Darbonne, who won the Class C pole vault in 9 feet, 6 inches. She also won the 100 hurdles and 100-meter dash. Louisiana School for the Deaf’s Alexia Powell won the 300 hurdles (51.42).
Simsboro claimed the Class B boys title with 641/2 points, edging Centerville (61). Bell City (52) and Alexandria’s Grace Christian (45) followed. Weston took the Class B girls title with 70, besting Episcopal School of Acadiana (62) in what was a tight race for the team title. Bell City and Simsboro each finished with 53 points in the girls division.
Rontavious Abney of Simsboro was voted the Outstanding Boys Performer in Class B after winning the 110 hurdles in 15.19 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 40.86. Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Elasha Williams was the Outstanding Girls Performer in Class B.
Williams won the 400 meters in 1:00.05 and the triple jump in 35-5¾ for ESA.
There also was a distance-race theme in Class B involving a local competitor as Patrick Taylor’s Celia Zaeringer edged Holden’s Clarissa Smith in two events. Zaeringer won the 1,600 (5:22.61) and 3,200 (12:08.15). Smith also got a title, winning the 800 in 2:31.75.
Thursday’s meet was the final championship event for Hosanna Christian, which is closing its high school portion this spring.
HCA’s Jeremy Williams took second in the triple jump and fifth in the 400. Teammate Kiana Ridley was sixth in the girls 100.
“We’re the last graduating class for the school,” Williams said. “We had to leave some kind of mark athletically.”