WALKER -- Denham Springs High track and field coach Andy McLean figured the race for the Livingston Parish Championships large school titles would be tight, and he was right, especially on the boys side.
The Yellow Jackets claimed the parish title by the slimmest of margins Thursday at Walker High, edging Walker 102-101, while Live Oak finished third with 82 points and Albany had one.
“Probably before the 200, the 300 hurdles, I saw how close it was, and I knew it was going to come down to the slimmest of finishes,” DSHS coach Andy McLean said. “At that point, you can’t change the game plan. Everybody’s all lined up. You can’t look and go, ‘man, I wish I’d had put that person in’, so I tried to pull away and have a moment with those guys … and I said, ‘hey, this is where we’re at. You’ve got to finish the night and see what happens.’ I’m proud of them. I’m excited for them. A point is a point, but it’s something to be happy about.”
In the small schools division, Springfield pulled away on the track, earning the title with 87 points, followed by French Settlement (60), Holden (53), Maurepas (52) and Doyle (16).
“The biggest thing with our guys was showing up,” Springfield coach Storm Reeves said. “We had guys in every event, and all of them came to compete. They gave me everything they possibly had in the tank, and they emptied it tonight.”
“They’re competing,” Reeves continued. “They’re learning how to run. They’re learning how to get after it with each other. It’s hard when we don’t have a track at school to actually run in circles and turn left, but they’re getting out there and working every day, so I’m really proud of them. They’ve come a long way since day one.”
After 18 events, Denham Springs led Walker 98-95, and the Wildcats picked up a win in the 4x400 relay as the Yellow Jackets finished second to account for the final margin.
Denham Springs put in a steady effort, posting top-three finishes in all but three events while overcoming a disqualification in the 4x100 relay.
The Yellow Jackets’ Montrell Morris earned Field MVP honors for the large schools, winning the triple jump (43-5.5), taking second in the long jump (21-10.5) and second in the high jump (5-08) while also winning the 400 meters (52.91).
Denham’s Todd Rodriquez and Joseph Aycock finished 1-2 in the 800 meters. Rodriquez was also fifth in the 3200, which McLean said was key for the Jackets.
“Mike Rodriquez, the boys won by one point, and we put him in that two mile because we knew he could go out and break 11 (minutes),” McLean said. “He gets fifth place, gets one point … and that was the difference-maker. That’s what it takes.”
Walker’s Jaden Williams won the long jump (22-10.5), while teammate Marek Hall was third (21-03), and the Wildcats’ Garret Wilson was a double winner in the shot put (44-08) and discus (121-06).
Walker’s Kentrell Scott won titles in the 110-meter hurdles (17.54) and 300-meter hurdles (44.75).
Live Oak’s Jack Earle was the large schools track MVP, winning the 1600 (4:45.19), 3200 (10:19.54) and also running a leg on the Eagles’ first-place 4x800 relay team with Devin McLendon, Thomas Sigman and Peyton Parker.
“I wanted to focus on trying to get a season-best for the year, and I was able to do that, but with (Denham Springs’) Cole (Slaby) there to push me, I wanted to make sure I kind of trailed behind him,” Earle said of his effort in the 3200. “He’s a good runner. He helped me keep pace and helped me push to get what my goal was, but really it was to find someone who would push my pace and kind of drag behind him.”
Slaby finished second in the 1600 (4:47. 66) and 3200 (10.21.22).
Walker’s Brian Thomas won the 100 meters with a PR of 11.23 seconds and was also on the Wildcats’ winning 4x100 relay team (44.30) with Andra’ Porter, Robert Jackson and Deaunoray Levy. Porter, Marek Hall, Robert Jackson and Thomas won the 4x200 relay (1:33.87).
“I didn’t do basketball, so I was just trying to stay in shape, keep myself ready for the next level in football,” said Thomas, who signed to play football at LSU. “I’ve been doing pretty good. I’m just trying to stay in shape and stay ready.”
Denham Springs’ Troy Golmond finished second to Thomas in the 100 (11.60), while winning the 200 (23.20) and high jump (6-04).
“I got out the blocks pretty strong and just kept my body up, stayed tall, straight-through shot and got the first place,” Golmond said of his effort in the 200.
“It’s my first year doing it (the high jump) as a senior,” Golmond continued. “I’m tired right now, but that’s just something I’ve been working hard at and staying patient and just trusting the process. I’m getting close to where I want to be at, but the job’s not finished. I’m getting close to the school record, but I’m going to just stay humble and just keep grinding and working hard.”
Elsewhere, Denham Springs’ John McDaniel turned in a PR of 158-06 to win the javelin, while Live Oak’s Clayton Simms won the pole vault (14-06). Walker’s Jaden Williams (22-10.5) won the long jump.
“Basically, I just worked on my feet and just threw as hard as I could and won the javelin,” McDaniel said. “The wind wasn’t very good today. It was blowing right in our faces, but I timed it just right and won first place. I’m happy about that. You need a little bit of luck. It’s my first year doing javelin, so a little lucky, I would say, but it’s fun. I enjoy it.”
Springfield’s championship was bolstered by the efforts of Track MVP Donald Morgan, who won the 800 meters (2:24.06), 1600 meters (5:19.28) and 3200 meters (11:52.15).
“Donald Morgan did an amazing job,” Reeves said. “It just so happened that the two big races he won, the mile and the two-mile, he got mixed in with the big schools too, so you had the big schools and the little schools running together. He won for the little schools, but the big schools were all very far ahead of him, so he knows he’s got to get better. He knows he’s got to keep working. He knows he can get there. He’s come so far in the past month. The next month ahead of us, he’s going to cut down those times and be much better.”
The Bulldogs’ Bradlyn McKay did his part with firsts in the 100 (11.97), 200 (24.38), while also being a part of Springfield’s winning 4x100 relay team with Rick Vicknair, Chris Hoskins and Jatoris Buggage. The 4x200 relay team of Vicknair, Terry Finley, Chris Hoskins and McKay also won first place.
“We put forth 100 percent effort at practice, and it pays off on the track,” McKay said. “I was a little embarrassed in my last track meet. I came in third place, so I had to come out and do something different, straighten out my stride … It worked out pretty well for me.”
Vicknair (18.97) and Britton Allen (20.59) finished 1-2 in the 110-meter hurdles, and 2-3 in the 300-meter hurdles, with Vicknair second (48.38) and Allen third (49.33).
Allen won the 400 meters (59.54), while the Bulldogs’ Ayden McAlister was second in the discus (96-03) and javelin (108-11).
French Settlement’s effort was highlighted by co-Field MVP Francis Hartwick, who won the javelin (117-01) and high jump (5-04) and was second in the 800 meters (2:26.21).
“I just do what I’ve been practicing for the last four years,” Hartwick said. “We didn’t really have a season last year, so I worked a lot harder this year. Missed out on junior year, so finish out strong.”
FSHS’ Daniel Bantaa won the high jump (17-00) and had seconds in the 100 (13.10) and 200 (27.00), while Brennan Boeneke won the 300 hurdles (47.71) and Matthew Whalen (33-10) won the triple jump and was third in the 1600 meters (6:18.22).
The Lions’ Thade Martin was second in the 3200 (13:01.57) and third in the 400 (1:04.72).
Doyle’s Carter Anderson was the co-Field MVP after winning the shot put (33-07) and discus (111-02).