You’d figure a showdown between Baton Rouge’s top girls sprinters would happen at some point. And it almost did at LSU’s High School Last Chance Qualifier.
Instead, those watching Zachary High’s Janie O’Connor and Episcopal’s Rachel Misher had to settle for one meet record and two top-15 national marks as the duo ran in separate races Saturday at the Carl Maddox Field House.
It started with O’Connor and Misher running identical times of 7.69 seconds in different qualifying heats of the 60-meter dash. The separate races theme continued a short time later when O’Connor, a sophomore, bolted past the field in the first heat of the 400 meters in 56.90 seconds, which ranks among the nation’s top 15.
Misher ran in the next heat and wound up placing third overall in 57.68. Those finishes had spectators primed to see the duo square off in the 60-meter final. But ZHS coach Chris Carrier opted to rest O’Connor.
From there, Misher took over and won the 60 dash in a personal best of 7.59 seconds. That mark set a Last Chance meet record and also ranks among the nation’s top 15.
Afterward, both runners contemplated what might have been. Since both will compete in different divisions at the LHSAA Indoor Championships on Feb. 21, any potential showdown will now have to wait until the outdoor season begins.
“I like competition,” O’Connor said. “I was surprised she (Misher) wasn’t in my 400 heat. Maybe we both would have gone faster.
“But I was really pleased with it, because a 56 is my fastest time this year. And I went from a 59 at the last meet to a 56 so that was really good. But I know I can go faster.”
Misher looked comfortable as she sprinted to victory in the 60 meters, a race that O’Connor said was “really good.”
“I’m still working on the start because block work is not the strongest part of my race,” Misher said. “I was surprised it was that fast. My PR before this was 7.7.
“No, I didn’t expect 7.5. Sometimes I doubt myself, and I’m not sure what I’m capable of. But if I focus I think I can get a faster time.”
The other top local competitor on the day was double winner Annie Hill of St. Joseph’s Academy. Hill won the 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, 18.20 seconds and came back a shortly after to win the 800 in 2:25.68.
Hill is best known as a cross country runner. However, the sophomore said her first indoor season has been a pleasant eye-opener.
“My goal for this meet was to do better than I did two weeks ago,” Hill said. “I’m still trying to figure out the strategy for a 200-meter track. We had some splits planned out, but once I start I forget the pace and just go. It was fun, winning the 800 was a surprise.”
The other individual girls winner also is a sophomore. Denham Springs’ Abigail O’Donoghue, who won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 4 inches. It was a second win at an LSU qualifier this season for O’Donoghue.
Episcopal’s Jeremiah Mayes was the only local boys winner. Mayes won the high jump by clearing of 6-4.
Catholic High and Baton Rouge High won two relays each.
The Bears won the boys 4x800-meter relay in 8:20.85 and closed out the meet by winning the 4x400 in 3:31.19. The Bulldogs won the girls 4x800 relay in 9:58.97 and the 4x400 in 4:05.34, placing four seconds ahead of Zachary.