The Port Allen men’s track team qualified in six events for state competition, and the day will prove particularly busy for two competitors.
Chris Murphy and Darius Jarrett each qualified for four state events – including one in which they will compete against each other – after their showings in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Region II-2A track meet at Episcopal High School.
“Chris has really developed this year not only in field events, but also as a runner,” head coach Don Gibson said. “Darius has really come along strong lately and did a great job for us, along with Mekyle Franklin, so we’ve really come along strong this year.”
They will be among the PAHS competitors who will vie for the top honors at the LHSAA Class 2A Regional Track Meet on Friday at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium. The top three competitors in each event punched their ticket to the state championship event.
Port Allen tallied 70 points to notch third at the meet. Episcopal led the pack with 123, while Lafayette placed second (79), Dunham took fourth (44) and Oakdale finished fifth (40) in the 21-team event. Ascension Episcopal and Rosepine emerged sixth and seventh, while New Iberia Catholic and Northeast tied for eighth and West Mary took 10th.
In the regional event, Murphy led the pack in the long jump (22-08.75) and Jarrett notched third (21-08.50), which set the stage for the two long-time teammates to battle in the same event at the state meet.
Jarrett and Murphy also teamed with Jacoby Howard and Mekyle Franklin a first-place finish in the 4x200-meter relay (1:30.64).
In addition, Murphy notched second place finishes in the 100-meter dash (11.05) and 200-meter dash (22.13), while Jarrett placed third in the triple jump (43-03).
Murphy competed in three events at the 2019 meet, but the second-generation competitor wants to make the most of his final event in a Pelican uniform.
“It feels good trying to achieve my goals, trying to be my best on the team and trying to help the team out,” he said. “For my last event, I want to make my school proud and make history with Port Allen High.”
While Murphy’s track history goes back to elementary school, the sport is a new experience for Jarrett, a senior who will wrap up his only full season in track.
“My coaches told me I could do it and they pushed me to go to the best of my ability,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling because I developed only in a few months, without being there a long time.’
Jarrett sees another benefit from his success.
“It would be a great feeling to get first place for my senior year but I want to do it to help encourage younger athletes to go into track,” he said.
Gibson expects Episcopal and New Iberia Catholic will have a dominant showing at the state meet, but he believes the Pelicans can still finish strong.
The number of events and the strong performance by the team – particularly Jarrett and Murphy – could give Port Allen a third-place finish. The Pels took third in the 2019, the last state event held due to the cancellation of last year’s meet after the outbreak of COVID-19.
Raven Murphy, Chris Murphy’s younger sister, landed the only state event for the women’s competition when she placed second (16-05.25) in the long jump.
The Port Allen women’s team tied with Lake Arthur for a ninth-place finish. Both scored 18 points.
Episcopal dominated women’s competition with 160 points for first place, far ahead runner-up Ascension Episcopal (77) and third-place Lafayette Christian.
Rosepine placed fourth (45) and Delcambre fifth (26). Dunham and West St. Mary notched sixth, while Oakdale notched eighth.
Field events begin at 1:30 p.m. and running events start at 4 p.m.