Saints crowned track champions for fourth time

Though it may be becoming old hat, the West Feliciana Saints boys track team sure does love to compete and win state championships. On May 4 at LSU, the team established itself as a dynasty, winning its fourth straight Class 3A State Championship.

“A lot of people counted this team out after we lost one of the most talented group of young men I have ever coached to graduation last year,” coach Preston King said.

Yet the team found a way to sustain greatness and continue to compete at a championship level.

King summed up the Saints season with an emphasis on the team. “The chemistry this year was awesome as the kids knew what they had to do for our team to be successful.”

As with every successful team, goals were established and achieved. “Our goals were to get better every day at practice, each week in track meets, then win district, regional and state,” King said.

The Saints competed in several large meets with 5A schools throughout the season and gained toughness and stamina that carried them as they breezed through district, regional and finally the state meet.

The weather at the state meet made things complicated as many field events were moved indoors. Combine that with the fact that there was a mass of competitors in three classifications (3A, 4A, and 5A) migrating back and forth between the indoor and outdoor track facilities. “We talked about being prepared for any changes we might face because of weather, and our kids didn't let it affect our performances,” King said.

King was quick to point out the contributions of all the Saints competitors, starting in the field event where he mentioned Jace Cazabat’s sixth place in the long jump and seventh place in the triple jump, Jarrett Davis’ fifth place in the discus, and Aidan Holland’s runner-up finish in the pole vault.

When competition turned to the track, the tone was set early with a win in the 4x200-meter relay (1:28.05) with runners Clayton Howard, Alonzo Jackson, Frankie Dorsey and Kam Jackson. Kam Jackson finished his incredible season winning the 100-meter (10.43), 200-meter (21.25) and 400-meter (49.04). He also anchored the 4x200-meter relay, earning the honor of Class 3A outstanding performer. King called Jackson's night an “awesome performance.” Jackson will take his considerable talents on the track to Baylor next year.

The 2019 state champion Saints will be remembered as a team that persistently improved over the course of the season. “As a coach I understood we had a different group of kids this year, but I never doubted them as I watched them improve each and every day at practice,” King said.

The 2019 Saints will lose eight seniors — Kam Jackson, Emery Godke, Clayton Howard, PJ Washington, Marlon Jones, Kolby Bangham, Alonzo Jackson and Devin Ferguson. “I'm going to miss them all,” King said.

King also mentioned his assistant coaches, some on staff at West Feliciana High and some volunteers, who have made the program successful and deserving of recognition. Gasten Gabriel is the throwers coach. Chris Holland works with the jumpers, and he works with the sprinters on block starts. Neil Lowery is responsible for the strength program. Hatem Bacher coaches the boys high jump and is an assistant coach for the girls team. King also offered a special thanks to coaches Rickey Grant, Antoinette Cobb and Nick Smith.

“I would like to thank all of our coaches for giving up countless hours to help prepare our students athletes to perform,” King said.

The track team will be selling T-shirts to help raise money to purchase state championship rings. To buy a shirt or assist with ring purchases, contact King for information at kingp@wfpsb.org


Warren Brady covers sports for The Watchman and Democrat. He can be contacted at extra@theadvocate.com.