Aislinn Roberts remembers just five short years ago when she was one of only two Lusher girls to qualify for the state track meet.
Ry-Anne Riley remembers just a year ago when Lusher came oh-so-close to winning its first state title.
On Saturday, the two seniors did their part in making all of that feel like distant memories.
Led by the senior dup of Roberts and Riley, Lusher got five first-place finishes and cruised to the Class 3A title at the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA State Track and Field Championships at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.
“Just to see it build to this is amazing,” said Roberts.
Roberts doubled, winning the 800 meters (2:25.63) and the 1,600 meters (5:28.00). It was her second straight year winning the 800 meters.
“Aislinn has just been the heart and soul of this program for five years,” Lusher coach Lorenza Winn said. “I had her as an eighth-grader, and the program was kind of built around her. Everybody fed off her energy and work ethic, and slowly but surely, she had brought more girls to practice, and that’s how we built this team.”
Riley, meanwhile, won the 400 meters in 56.95.
Both competed on the winning 4x400 relay team (4:02.41) that gave the Lady Lions 84 points on the day, easily outdistancing second-place St. Louis to help bring a state title to Uptown.
Lusher also got a first-place finish from eighth-grader Carolyn McGinnis in the 3,200 meters (12:13.87).
“These girls have worked so hard all year,” Winn said. “For us to win cross country, indoor and outdoor, to sweep all three, is an amazing feeling. On rainy days, they are still asking for workouts. Nobody is looking to skip practice. They are just dedicated to the sport. They worked out all summer long, and we are really a family.”
The victory helped erase the sour taste of last season when Lusher lost to Curtis by seven points. They got disqualified in the 4x200 in a race that would have given them enough points for a victory.
“They were extremely hungry,” Winn said. “It stayed on their mind the whole year. They were determined to come in here and get the big trophy this time.”
Only one other girl from the New Orleans area won a 3A state title.
Ellie Silvia of Sacred Heart won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 6 inches.
“Coming into today, I said this is my last one, make it or break it right here,” Silvia said. I gave it everything I had, and good things happen.”
It was her sixth high jump title in indoor and outdoor.
Ryan Theyard of Lusher won the triple jump with a leap of 48 feet, 10.5 inches.
It’s the second straight year that he has won both the indoor and outdoor triple jump titles.
It was a personal best and a family best. Theyard’s older brother, Ricky, who now jumps at the Louisiana- Lafayette, had the Lusher record of 48 feet, 8 inches, but little brother surpassed that on Saturday.
“I know he’d much rather I have it than somebody else,” Theyard said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m going to miss track, but I’ll be doing football (at Jackson State), so I will work on that.”
Lutcher junior Jontre Kirklin doubled, winning the long jump (23 feet, 7.25 inches) and the high jump (6 feet, 8 inches).
“I didn’t make it to state last year, so it’s a blessing to me,” Kirklin said. “I love the atmosphere here, especially knowing I committed to LSU. I just came out here and worked hard. Now it’s football time.”
Kirklin, who plays quarterback, led Lutcher to a football title in December.
“It’s the same feeling,” he said. “A state championship is a state championship. It’s a dream come true and an accomplishment for me.”
De La Salle’s 4x100 relay team of Lance Robinson, Myles Ward, Jabal White and Semaj Lewis captured first place and was the only relay team from the New Orleans area to win a state title on Saturday.
West Feliciana won the boys title with 59.5 points, finishing ahead of second place Jewel Sumner (38).