Ponchatoula girls win close track regional _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- From left, Catholic High's Davis Richardson and Arthur Price, Dutchtown's Tyler Hughes and Justin Reid and Denham Springs' Pheonix Richardson run in the 110-meter hurdles at the Class 5A, Region 2 meet at Baton Rouge High.

As the Class 5A, Region 2 track meet was coming to a close Ponchatoula High girls track coach Danny Thomasson had a secret he didn’t want his team to know just yet.

A second-place finish in the meet’s final scored event, the girls pole vault, was going to literally put the Green Wave over the top on Thursday at Baton Rouge High.

Though Fontainebleau’s Madison Heath won the event with an impressive vault of 12 feet, 8 inches, Madison Mizell’s second-place finish at 11-0 made Ponchatoula the team champion with 71 points, just two points ahead of host BRHS (69). Zachary (65) and St. Joseph’s Academy (60) were next.

“Our goal was to bring a group of girls and try to score as many points as we could,” said Thomasson, a Baton Rouge native now in his 18th year at PHS. “We coach the heck out of the technical events and today it showed. Did I expect this? Well, when you work hard, good things do happen.”

Outstanding Girls Field Performer Airianna Hamilton won the girls triple jump in 35 feet, 11¼ inches and also placed second in the high jump and long jump to pace the Green Wave.

“I came in here just trying to get better,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to score some points to help put my team on top. This is really big because we haven’t won regional in a long time. It means a lot to me, my team and my coaches.”

There was no drama on the boys side as Catholic High rolled up 147 points. Central (73) edged Dutchtown (70) for second. The top three competitors in each event advance to the 5A portion of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Outdoor Track meet set for May 10 at LSU.

“I don’t know the numbers yet, but I think we qualified 15 or 16 guys,” Catholic coach Pete Boudreaux said. “We’ve got a lot of guys in (the state meet). Our field came through. I think we qualified nine guys there. We just kept sneaking them through.”

Catholic didn’t have a top award winner at the meet, though field specialist Ross Quinlan, who won the discus in 170-0 and set a personal best of 52-2½ while placing second in the shot put, was a key performers.

“Me and Nigel (Despinasse), along with the other guys try to compete and start things off for us in the field,” Quinlan said. “We do that with the idea that everybody can build off that for the rest of the track meet.”

Central’s Craig Jones and Dutchtown’s Tyler Hughes garnered the top boys honors. Jones won the long jump in 22-4¾ and the triple jump in 47-0 and was the Outstanding Boys Field Performer. Hughes won the 110 (14.21 seconds) and 300 hurdles (38.07) was the Outstanding Boys Track Performer.

BRHS’ Mikiah Brisco won the Outstanding Girls Track Performer honor but did not sweep all her events. Brisco won the 100 (11.79) and 100 hurdles (14.17) but placed second to Zachary freshman Janie O’Connor in the 200 meters. O’Connor, who also won the 400 in 56.79, finished the 200 in 24.01, .11 ahead of Brisco, an LSU signee.

St. Joseph’s Academy distance runner Annie Hill won the 1,600 (5:14.84) and the 3,200 (12:33.21). Live Oak’s Ashley Davis won the shot put (39-10½) and discus (122-11).

Jones and Hughes were the only boys double winners. St. Paul’s pulled off a nifty triple play with three runners, Eric Coston (800), Zach Albright (1,600) and DC Lipani (3,200) sweeping the boys distance events.