As the Division I girls 4x400-meter relay finished with his team in second place, St. Joseph’s Academy coach Charlie Daigle said what others were thinking.
“I can finally breathe,” Daigle said, acknowledging that his team had son its second consecutive title at the LHSAA Indoor Championships track meet.
The Redstickers’ title was part of a hugely successful day that saw local schools win three of the four team titles. Each had its story line.
For a Zachary High boys team known for speed, distance races made the difference. The Broncos’ ousted Ruston for the Division I boys title 87-74. SJA edged John Curtis 76-70 with Zachary finishing third.
Episcopal had one individual champion and a 4x800-meter relay win. Points in other places gave the Knights a sixth straight Division II boys crown over E.D. White Catholic by a 69-46 margin. Lake Charles-based St. Louis Catholic (83) won the Division II girls title. Episcopal (59) was second.
“Incredible … first of all that we got to have a season and this meet,” Daigle said. “Placing first or second in this division is tough and to do it two years in a row is amazing.”
Zachary coach Chris Carrier added, “The distance points after Julie Fink coaching them was huge. Today every point counted.”
Orsciana Beard, Kenson Tate, Chris Hilton Jr. and Rhen Langley were pivotal to Zachary. Distance Sophie Martin played the same role for St. Joseph’s in the Division I girls race.
Beard won the long jump in 39 feet, 8 inches, and the long jump in 18-9, along with finishing second in the 60 hurdles. There was no record for Hilton the high jump. He stopped after establishing a winning height of 6-6¼ in order to prepare for the final relay.
Hilton also won the 400 in 50.71 seconds. Tate also was a double winner, taking firsts in the long jump (22-6½) and 60 meters (6.89). Langley won the boys 1,600 in 4:22.61.
But it was his second place in the 3,200 that extended Zachary’s lead over Ruston to an insurmountable 11 points with one event remaining. Beard won the long jump in 39-8 and the long jump in 18-9 for the ZHS girls.
“I just love these guys and the way we work together,” Tate said. “We came with a goal and accomplished it.”
Martin set a meet record by winning the 3,200 meters in 11:14.41. She also won the 1,600 (5:15.20). Martin’s 3,200 win coupled with a fourth place by Maddie Gardiner gave the Redstickers an eight-point lead with one event to go. The second-place finish in the final relay was icing on the cake.
Oliver Jack’s winning shot put toss of 52-9½ was the best in both divisions and helped ignite the Knights' march to a title.
“We were all determined to do what we had to today because we remembered the seniors last year," Jack said. "They lost the outdoor season (because of the pandemic). We were not going to take this chance for granted.”
The most prolific performer of the meet was Parkview Baptist’s Ariel Pedigo. Her winning leap of 5-6½ was part of an impressive string of finishes.
Pedigo then won the long jump in 18-8. After a second place in the shot put, Pedigo won the Division II 60 hurdles in 9.22 seconds. She finished with 38 points to help the Eagles finish third with 42 points.