Ruston thinclads rock the regionals, bring home two titles, 25 state qualifiers

RHS Track and Field team photo by AMY VESSEL.

Staff writer

NATCHITOCHES — Ruston High School’s track and field teams rose to the occasion Wednesday. And kept rising.

The Bearcats were favored to defend their 2019 Region I-5A championship and did.

Ruston’s Lady Bearcats were expected to fight for the 2021 regional title – and did so successfully.

RHS swept the regional crowns at Northwestern State’s storied Walter P. Ledet Track Complex while recording 25 top three finishes, 15 by the boys, that qualified for next Saturday’s state championships at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.

“We came here hoping to move a lot of our athletes forward to the state meet, and wanting to bring home regional championships,” said RHS coach Allen Whitaker. “We did that, and more. We had school records, we had PRs (personal records). We’re now in position to be in position to win next Saturday in Baton Rouge. I’m a very proud coach.”

Ruston won 13 events, seven from the boys. Three school records fell – two by the Lady Bearcats.

And oh, by the way, Brandon Green popped the nation’s second-ranked triple jump, breaking his own school record by an inch with a 50-4 1/4 leap. That was one of three wins for the meet’s Outstanding Field Event Athlete, who had a personal record 23-2 mark in the long jump, threatening the RHS standard, and missed the school record by one-tenth of a second while taking the 300 meter hurdles in 39.3.

The junior is making the spectacular seem routine.

He went 50-3 to open the outdoor season, becoming only the fifth 50-footer in North Louisiana history, including future USA Olympians LaMark Carter and Hollis Conway. He nearly soared 50 on his first try Wednesday, then got past that on the second attempt and curtailed efforts afterward, saving gas in the tank for the upcoming hurdles race.

Many others on the Ruston squads are routinely remarkable, and able to rise up at the right time.

For example, LSU signee Dyllon Nimmers was a double-winner Wednesday as anticipated, in the 800 and 3200, taking the eight-lap race in a lean at the line over a valiant Byrd competitor.

Case in point: Jada Green, doubled up with gold in the 200 and 400 dashes.

There was Corlasia Scott, roaring to a school-record 44.3 clocking while taking second in the 300 hurdles, and also contributing blistering legs on winning 4×100 and 4×400 relays. That 4×4 unit, with Tyra Fields, Scott, Kemiah Spencer and Kiona McCallister, carried the stick around in 3:57 – a 20-second improvement of their winning mark at the District 2-5A meet a week earlier.

That other school record for the RHS girls? Scott was involved again, with the same 4×1 foursome (Spencer, Green, Fields and Scott) which excels in the 4×2. They won in 1:39.1, the state’s fastest in 2021, lowering the Lady Bearcats’ best ever for the third time this spring.

McCallister grabbed more gold in the 800. Other Lady Bearcats state qualifiers: Fields, second in the 200 behind only Green; Lily Garrett, third in the 1600, and also with a leg on the silver medal 4×800 unit that will run again next Saturday.

Along with Green’s three triumphs, and the two from Nimmers, the Bearcats’ other gold medal performances came in relays, the 4×100 squad and from the heavily favored 4×800 squad of Andrew McCaskill, Titus Watts, Nelson Blackburn and Bryar Madden. The 4×1 crew nipped Captain Shreve 41.78 to 41.79.

The RHS boys recorded eight seconds, notably two by Ke’Travion “Bull” Hargrove in the 100 dash and the long jump, where he had a dramatic PR of 22-8. Down to his last jump, Hargrove was on the outside looking in, not in the top three that moved forward to statewide competition. Sprints coach Kevin Jackson, whose dad is the jumps coach at TCU, checked in with a suggestion. Hargrove made the adjustment and nailed the best jump of his career.

Other silver medals went to high jumper Jamarion Reed, Caleb Babineaux in the 1600, Demarion Rhone in the 200, (21.9), Josiah Whitaker on Nimmers’ heels in the 800, and in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays.

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