Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE Catholic High's Ross Quinlan has Class 5A's top entry mark in the discus with a toss of 170 feet.

Zachary High School isn’t known as a track and field power. But after finishing third in last week’s Class 5A, Region II meet, the Broncos are poised to make a move into the girls elite along with defending champion Baton Rouge High.

Catholic High has won five of the past six Class 5A boys titles. Even skeptics would agree that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Outdoor Track and Field meet is a signature event for the Bears, who have won 13 outdoor titles under coach Pete Boudreaux.

On the final day of the annual meet at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium, both teams will be focused on performance, not projections. A forecast that calls for more rain could also be a factor as teams in Class 3A, 4A and 5A begins at 10:45 a.m. Saturday with field events. Running events are set for 3:30 p.m.

“Every year is different,” Boudreaux said. “You never know what to expect. That’s one of the reasons we practice in all kinds of weather conditions. Things like that, you can’t control.

“There are a lot of talented teams and individuals in this meet. It should be a really good one. The only thing you can control is what you do. That’s all we’re trying to get our guys to do is focus on what’s going in their lane or their throws.”

The Bears have qualified 18 competitors in 14 events, a group that is heavily based in the field events.

By contrast, most of Zachary’s events revolve around the track. With a nice mixture of veteran and youngsters, Zachary coach Chris Carrier said he is excited to see how his team performs.

“We’ve got girls who have been to the state meet before,” Carrier said. “Kenyetta Franklin is the defending 300 hurdles champion. It will be a tough competition. I’d like to think the things we’ve done and meets we’ve been in have helped us prepare for this.

“Baton Rouge High has won it the last four or five years. You know what you get with them. So will New Iberia, Byrd and Natchitoches Central. Barbe has a chance to be in there too.”

One of the premier matchups will involve Zachary freshman Janie O’Connor, who won the 400 meters and edged BRHS star Mikiah Brisco in the 200 last week. Brisco, an LSU signee, has the top entry meets in the 100 meters and 100 hurdles. O’Connor leads the 200 and 400.

Catholic has the top entry mark in two field events with Chadd Burns (pole vault) and Ross Quinlan (discus) having the top entry marks. Quinlan and Nigel Despinasse are seeded second and third in the shot put.

Central’s Craig Jones has the top marks in both the long jump and triple jump. Woodlawn’s Deante Early tops the list of entrants in the 400.

“St. Paul’s, with their distance runners, always have a chance to score well,” Boudreaux said. “Hahnville is strong in the distance events and has a good hurdler. Haughton comes in with some good guys in the sprints. You’ve got several teams that have a chance to do well.”

The 200 showdown with Brisco and O’Connor won’t be the only high-profile event. Dutchtown’s Tyler Hughes is part of the hurdles events along with Hahnville’s Brandon Singleton and Catholic’s Arthur Price.

Competitors in 3A and 4A also have the chance to make their marks. In the 4A girls competition, St. Michael the Archangel is led by hurdler Tylor Row and Tyler Morrison in the 400. Plaquemine’s Aldrianna Dupree is a top sprinter.

Port Allen’s Nick Parker helps lead the 3A contingent. Parker is entered in four events, including the high jump and 110 hurdles. LSU football commitment Jazz Ferguson is entered in the long jump.