Saturday is shaping up as a day of destiny for the Ruston High School track and field teams. Today is a day of encouragement and excitement as they board the buses, heading south at 2:30.
Supporters of Ruston High School are invited to take part in a Send Off Party at 2:30 today. The teams will walk from the Dave Anderson Track to the bus pick-up area to the left of the school auditorium to load up for the ride to Baton Rouge. Ruston Mayor Ronnie Walker will be among those on hand to encourage the Bearcats and Lady Bearcats.
The LHSAA Allstate Sugar Bowl Class 5A championships will be staged Saturday at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge, and the RHS boys and girls are positioned to make runs at team titles, along with plenty of individual and relay crowns.
While the team championships are the ultimate goal, they are built on scoring totals compiled from high finishes in each event. Ruston will have more than its share.
“I’m always optimistic about what our teams can do. I feel very good about both competing and possibly bringing home a trophy, maybe two,” said RHS coach Allen Whitaker. “We’ve got to be our best version of ourselves on the day of competition, and we’ll be fine.
“This is what we’ve prepared for, and we have a lot of athletes making the trip. Getting on the (awards) podium as often as possible is what we need to do to realize our goals. It’s all about controlling what we can do,” he said.
While state titles are nothing new for Ruston track and field, Whitaker is eager to see at least one of his teams at the top. In his eight years (seven seasons) as coach, the strongest state meet showing came in 2015, when Ruston brought home runner-up trophies for the girls and boys. Belief that challenges could be made in 2021 were confirmed when the boys finished second in the state indoor championships in February, and the girls have blossomed outdoors this spring.
The boys were dominant in the Region 1-5A championship last Wednesday, nearly doubling the scoring by runner-up Lafayette High. A forecast by La.Milesplit.com puts the Bearcats in a four-team chase for the state crown.
“I don’t want to discount what Catholic and Zachary, and Ouachita, can do. They have a lot of firepower, too,” Whitaker said. “I’m telling our kids go out and compete, be the best version of yourself, and if we do that across the board, I’ll be a happy coach however the scoring sorts out, if my kids give it their all.
“What’s unfolding is what I thought would take place after we got home from indoors. We have a bitter taste in our mouths from that meet, when Zachary won the state championship. We have to go earn it, head up against them and the others. No surprises about the other contending schools,” he said.
As for the Lady Bearcats, they’ll have to overcome a powerful Zachary squad and a potent St. Joe’s team to earn a team trophy. Ruston won its duel with Lafayette by 18 points to take the regional championship.
“The girls are looking pretty good. All our relays can get on the podium. We will be challenged. We’ve been running fast without being challenged, but we will be pushed Saturday, and there should be some shocking times,” Whitaker said.
Live results will be available through the track and field page on LHSAA.org and live video coverage is provided by La.Milesplit.com.