While parish high schools take the courts and the fields for competition today on a busy afternoon, the powerhouse Ruston High School track and field program is preparing to host its second home meet Friday.
The Ruston Invitational at L.J. “Hoss” Garrett Stadium on Dave Anderson Track begins with field events at 3:30 p.m.. Running starts at 5 p.m..
Participating schools include Cedar Creek, Byrd, Union Parish, Natchitoches Central, Southwood and Parkway.
For the hosts, the meet provides a chance for younger and emerging team members to raise their stock with good performances, while some of Ruston’s top performers will either not compete or in most cases, will be entered in secondary events for training or experimental purposes.
That’s part of coach Allen Whitaker’s master plan, looking ahead to the District 2-5A championships April 21 in Monroe and the Region 1-5A championships a week later at Northwestern State in Natchitoches. He hopes Friday’s performances identify second-level athletes who can step up and score at those meets.
It’s a luxury he has because the RHS program has some competitors who are among the elite statewide, regionally and even nationally, and they represented Ruston remarkably well last Saturday at the Mobile (Alabama) Challenge of Champions competition.
Ruston medaled in seven events, winning four, while lining up against top high school performers in a showcase meet.
Two school records tumbled, helping make the long ride home hardly unpleasant, reflecting on a dynamic day for the program and many of its best performers.
The Lady Bearcats’ 4×100 relay team shattered the school standard for the second time this spring, clocking a 47.71 winning time.
“They got the stick around smoothly,” Whitaker said. “They won each of their legs. It was very exciting.”
One of those sprinters, Jada Williams, also broke the school 400 record with a 55.60 time for a silver medal.
Mississippi State football fans had to be pleased when standout senior Bearcat running back Keitravion Hargrove ran third in the 100 meter dash in a fleet 10.78 time, a personal record that had to be eye candy for his future college coach, Mike Leach.
Junior Brandon “B.J.” Green lived up to his billing in the triple jump, winning on five jumps with a 47-10 3/4 leap. He also ran fifth in the 300 meter hurdles (39.98), after Lady Bearcats standout Corlasia Scott finished second in the girls race in 46.27.
Tyra Fields took bronze in the girls 200 (24.82). The Lady Bearcats clocked 3:56.40 as they wrapped up the competition with a second in the 4×400 relay.
Among of all the highlights, the first race of the day was Whitaker’s favorite. The Bearcats’ 4×800 relay foursome, which had the best time entering the meet, overcame a near-disastrous start, when Caleb Babineaux fell 150 meters into his first lap.
He scrambled to his feet and was undaunted. Bryar Madden gnawed away at the leaders on the second leg, then LSU signee Dyllon Nimmers completed the comeback on leg three, racing Ruston into the lead. Sophomore Josiah Whitaker (coach’s son) took the stick and won a duel with the highly-regarded anchor runner from Baton Rouge-Catholic, crossing first in 7:59.62, just ahead of the Bears’ 7:59.98.
“The guys kept their composure and raced strategically,” Whitaker said. “Dyllon got us out front, and Josiah kept us there. That got everybody pumped up. Our girls 4×1 raced right after and got a boost from the boys’ comeback.”
TODAY’S LINCOLN PARISH PREP SPORTS SCHEDULE
• Ruston HS tennis, home vs. Captain Shreve, 3:30 p.m.
• Simsboro HS softball, home vs. Ringgold, 4 p.m. (doubleheader)
• Cedar Creek HS baseball, home vs. North Webster, JV 4 p.m., Varsity 6 p.m.
• Ruston HS baseball, home vs. Alexandria Sr. High, 5:30 p.m.
• Choudrant HS baseball, home vs. Quitman, 6 p.m.
• Simsboro HS baseball at Weston, 4 p.m.
• Cedar Creek HS softball at Haughton, 5 p.m.