LAFAYETTE — After last week’s District 5-4A meet, when the Cecilia boys dropped the baton in two relays, Bulldogs coach Brian Ellender Jr. said he thinks everyone cast his team aside going into regionals.
“Losing all those points, we got pushed off to the side,” Ellender said. “We kept telling our kids we just needed go out here and have fun and the times would take care of themselves.”
Cecilia, qualified for state in nine events Wednesday, including wins in the 100 and 200 meters and 4x400 relay on the way to winning the boys division with 81 points. Westgate was the runner-up with 82 points.
Cecilia’s Raymond Calais won the 100 and 200 and also ran a second-leg on the 4x400 that brought Cecilia from fifth place to first. They never relinquished the lead.
“Raymond is special,” Ellender. said. “He is a once-in-a-lifetime kid to coach. He is the hardest working kid we have, and when he works hard, the other kids can’t take off. He is busting his butt, and he was impressive to watch.”
Calais ran a 10.79 in the 100 and a 21.5 in the 200. He wasn’t scheduled to run the 4x400, but he was a late addition into the race. Ellender, who is in his final season coaching at Cecilia, said after last week’s debacle, he was proud to see his team perform at a high level Wednesday.
“It’s exciting for the kids,” he said. “We were depressed last week. We kept looking at the numbers, and it looked like we had a shot. We have a bunch of kids that work hard. We knew if we could get eight to state, it’d be enough. We got nine. Once you get to state, anything can happen.”
Plaquemine’s freshman sprinter Aldrianna Dupree won the 100, 200 and 400 as she catapulted the Plaquemine girls to first place with 87 points. St. Thomas More was second with 82 points.
Plaquemine coach Peter Villia said despite Dupree being a freshman, she is a leader for the upperclassmen on a team that finished third the last three years at the state.
“Last year, (Dupree) was outstanding MVP as an eighth-grader,” Villia said. “She runs track all year around, and the biggest thing about her is that she wants to learn how to get better. She never gets a big head regardless of what is going on. She is young, but she pushes our 10th- and 11th-graders because she has so much track experience. She’s a good catch, and I am glad I have her for three more years.
Dupree, who won the girls outstanding performance in the heat, said her best event is the 400. Wednesday night, she appeared to be out of contention midway through the 400, but closed strong on St. Thomas More’s Kirby Roy and Ashton Bourque and won in 59.61. She had the only time under one minute.
“I feel good about doing what I do,” Dupree said. “Even if I have the lowest time in my event, I am still going to go out and give it my best. I don’t stop until I am satisfied.”
Dupree claimed the 100 in 12.14 and the 200 in 25.33. In both events, she beat Northside’s Claudesha Watson. Villia said despite his team’s youth, they are fighters.
“These kids continue to push themselves,” Villia said. “We talk about working hard and working through anything that comes our way. This is our second year winning regionals, and it’s a good thing for us. Last three years, we won third (at state). I am hoping we can climb that ladder. We’ll be out there trying to do something great.”