A triple threat looms for teams in District 7-3A who hope to vie for the state track title next months.
The realigned district brought not just one defending champ to the fold for the 7-3A meet Wednesday.
This time, it brought three.
The district includes three champs from the previous district classifications – Port Allen, West Feliciana and University High.
The three teams faced competition Wednesday in the meet at West Feliciana High School in Bains.
“To have three defending champions in one meet is huge,” Port Allen coach Leonard Parker said. “West Feliciana is tough enough, but then you contend with a school like University … that’s the makings of a great meet.”
The track rivalry between Port Allen and West Feliciana dates back to the early 90s, when PAHS built itself as one of the state’s premier programs.
The opportunity to face West Feliciana delivers enough motivation, but University does it for another reason, Parker said.
“I call them a ‘bully’ school,” he said. “They win titles in football, basketball, volleyball and maybe even baseball, so someone has to take them down.”
Nicholas Parker figures as a frontrunner for the Pelicans, particularly in field events. He has led in the high jump and triple jump, but has also dominated both hurdle events.
Marcus Keyes, Telson Allen and Casper Williams also figure into the mix for the Pels.
“I believe the team with the most depth will win it, and I think that will be us,” Coach Parker said. “Everybody has a number of quality athletes, but I think if you come first or second in one event, it could be a huge turning point – we have a possible four events we can do that.”
He anticipates the last four events will determine the winner – the 300-meter hurdles, the 400-meter run, the 200-meter and the mile-relay.
“Teams that don’t have nagging injuries will be successful,” Parker said. “The goal is to get points in every meet.
“If we perform as we’re capable of, it won’t be close,” he said. “If we do that, it could be over really early – maybe even before the running events get started.”
Brusly coach Brady Perry brings a Panther team to action that has been in the midst of a rebuilding year.
“We have a lot of talent, but no one dominant competitor,” he said. “We have some talent in the field events, but we lost so much from last year.”
It’s a different story for the BHS girls, who built on the momentum that started last year.
The Lady Panthers entered the event after finishing first in the Sugar Relays at White Castle High School.
“We had a good outing, everyone ran well, even though the weather wasn’t that good,” coach Marc Brown said.
Brown believes BHS could make a solid showing in the district meet if the Lady Panthers maintain their current momentum.
“West Feliciana always has a good team and big numbers, and we don’t have the big team,” he said. “We have to take care of our business, control what we can control and hopefully if we do that, we’ll have a chance.”
Freshman Taylor Shaw will figure prominently in the running events.
“She’s extremely mature and handles herself well going into meets,” Brown said. “She’s been in big meets during the summer, but this is her first big high school meet.”
Kennedy Cullen has been an anchor on the field events, while Janae Ovete has made strong showings in the shot put and discus, while Johnae LeBlanc has delivered in running events.
Standouts for Port Allen girls include field event frontrunner Rhea Lee, while Destiny Washington will vie in the shot put and several running events.
The top six competitors will advance to the regional meet. Top regional winners will head to state competition May 9 and 10 at LSU’s Bernie More Track Stadium.