Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Riverdale's Donte' Jackson, second from right, celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of, from left, Morgan City's Kevon Marsh, Edna Karr's Edward Davis, and Cecilia's Raymond Calais Jr. in the Class 4A 100-meter dash at the LHSAA StateTrack & Field Meet last month at LSU's Bernie Moore Stadium.

On your mark.

Get set.


The time it takes you to read this sentence is about how long it took for Riverdale senior sprinter Donte Jackson to burst out of the starting blocks and reach the finish line Saturday in the boys Class 4A 100 meters at the LHSAA state championship Saturday.

10.30 seconds.

And by the time you finish reading this entire column, St. Paul’s freshman Eric Coston would have completed his two-mile race.

That’s assuming you can read this in under 9 minutes and 20 seconds — the time it took Colson to complete the 3,200-meter run.

Those were just some of the highlights of the LHSAA track and field championships that were held Thursday through Saturday last week.

Here are a few more of the more impressive feats that were accomplished over the three days by New Orleans area athletes.

Let’s start with Gabby Jennings.

Jennings, a distance runner at tiny First Baptist Christian School in Slidell, won titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

Jennings set class records in the 800 meters (2:16.92) and the 1,600 meters (5:00.60), surpassing the marks she set as a sophomore. Her time in the 1,600 meters was better than any 1,600-meter champion in any classification.

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If she had run in the Class C 1,600 boys race, she would’ve finished third.

Including her collection of cross country state championships and relay titles, she now has won 37 state titles.

That’s particularly impressive considering the size of her school.

Jennings, one of 16 juniors in her class, could give each of her classmates a gold medal and still have seven left over for herself.

She can add to her total next season, proving that the size of the school doesn’t matter.

Neither does the size of the track team.

Just ask the folks at Sophie B. Wright and Edna Karr.

The Sophie B. Wright boys team, a relative newcomer to track, finished second in Class 2A.

The Warriors did it despite having just six guys (Marvin Nelson, Charles Dickerson, Antoine Oates, Derek Robinson, Lonnie Warren and Kevin Johnson). And it was the school’s first year having a boys track program, according to first-year coach Kenneth White, who also coached at the now-defunct Fortier High and at Cohen.

“For a first year team, it is a major accomplishment,” said White. “This is what I work for. I’m so used to having bigger teams and bigger number. But that’s just a testament to how dedicated this team is. When you get kids that believe in what you are trying to do, it really is not as hard.”

Dickerson, one of five seniors, was one of those who believed.

“We had nothing to lose,” Dickerson said. “We play other sports and we didn’t have scholarships in other sports. So we wanted to multitask.”

Sophie B. Wright wasn’t the only school that was short in numbers but big on results.

The Edna Karr girls team won the Class 4A crown, giving the school its first girls track championship since 2003.

They did it with just five girls (Rikianne Patterson, Imani Mulmore, Dimonquie Shannon, Taylor Harris and Tasia Wilson).

The biggest star of the weekend was perhaps Devyn Keith of John Curtis.

Keith, like Jennings, won the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200 meters and anchored the 4x400 team that finished in third place. Keith helped Curtis win its sixth straight outdoor title.

He helped account for 36 (almost half) of the Patriots’ 82 points.

On the day, Keith ran 6,000 meters, the equivalent of three miles and ¾ of another.

He did it all in a little over 17 minutes, each time, finishing strong.