Even before the starter shot his pistol for Friday’s Class 2A girls 100 meter hurdles state final, Alia Armstrong was truly in a race of her own — running against the clock, the record book and the reputation she’d already made as an LSU track and field commitment.
The reigning champion in the 100 and 300 hurdles practically runs alone, even at the LHSAA state meet level. The St. Katharine Drexel senior easily went back-to-back in both her individual races Friday, winning both by more than three seconds — an eternity in the world of track and field.
The real goals — Armstrong stamped her name in the LHSAA history books with composite records that will stand for years to come — were just a bit tougher.
“It’s such an honor, just running on LSU’s track in general,” she said. “Greatness has already been made here, so I’m just happy to be part of it.”
After setting Class 2A records in both hurdle races last spring in her first trip to the state track and field finals, Armstrong shattered both marks Friday — along with those from any girls high school runner in the state’s history.
Armstrong began her meet helping her teammates defend their 4x200-meter relay title, finishing in 1:42.89. Then, she burst out of the gates in the 100 hurdles, throwing down a 13.39 to break a state mark that was set in 2008.
“I’m honestly just blessed and so happy to be here,” she said. “Last year even though I still ran, I was hurt and going through a hamstring injury. I’m just happy to be able to be out here with my team for my last state meet.”
Amstrong then took a commanding lead to start the 300 hurdles, but she slowed just a bit toward the end. Breaking the old state record that had stood since 2013 came down to her final lean — but she nabbed it by three-hundredths of a second in 42.60.
To cap her high school career, Armstrong ran a blistering leg in the 4x400 for the winning team, which finished in 3:59.53 to set a Class 2A record. It sealed St. Katharine Drexel's second-place team finish while earning Armstrong the girls Class 2A Most Outstanding Runner award.
“This was all bittersweet,” she said. “I’m ready to go to the next level, but I’m really going to miss running with everyone who’s still here at my school. I’m going to miss my sisters.”
Riverside sprinter Ahmonte Watkins also entered Friday’s meet with something to prove, after winning the Class 2A 200 meters a year ago while taking third in the 100. Securing the ever-coveted sprinter’s double meant a lot to the reserved sophomore.
But after securing both victories Friday night, winning the 100 in 10.71 and the 200 in 21.71, Watkins said he was even happier because he did it with a great friend, Patrick Taylor sprinter Caleb Randall, on his tail.
Watkins was named the boys Class 2A Most Outstanding Runner. Randall finished fifth in the 100 and took third in the 200 in 22.36.
“He helped me and pushed me in the 100 at districts. He was a lot closer than I expected,” Watkins said. “I told him to keep pushing into state and you’ll get (onto the podium).”
St. Martin’s Episcopal distance runner Samuel Kellum also defended his title from a year ago in the Class 1A 3200 meters, finishing in 10:08.57.
After taking second in the Class 2A girls 200 meters a year ago, MLK Charter’s Simone Pierre grabbed first-place in 25.37 while taking third in the 100.
Patrick Taylor’s Janee Kovacs took first in the Class 2A girls discuss, beating last year’s champion Emily Nichols from Port Allen by just eight inches with a toss of 117 feet, 5 inches after finishing second to her a year ago.
KIPP Booker T. Washington’s Robert Sears won the Class 1A 400 meters in 48.11.