By T. Scott Boatright
Coming off a big weekend at the Texas Relays, the Ruston High School Track and Field Team will be back at it again on Friday as RHS hosts the “Hoss” Garrett Relays.
After Garrett played football for and graduated from Louisiana Tech, he began his coaching career at Forest High School in 1934 before taking over football and track coaching chores for Arcadia High School in 1936 and then moving to Ruston in 1937.
Garrett’s football teams won state championships in 1941, 1947 and 1951 as he compiled a 270-122-19 before retiring in 1973. Garrett was also known for making his football players compete in track and field for training and conditioning purposes. Garrett passed away in 1986.
Last weekend RHS boys triple jumper BJ Green, who has signed to compete for the University of Oklahoma, took first place at the Texas Relays.
Ruston’s 3,200-m relay team of Andrew McKaskle, Babineaux, Nelson Blackburn and Bryar Madden finished 10th at the Texas Relays while the RHS Distance Medley boys relay team of Andrew McClinton, Joshua Anding, Carson McPherson and Caleb Babineaux finished 13th while the Bearcats’ 1,600-m relay team of Anding, McPherson, Josiah Whitaker and Brady Beason came in 19th in that event.
Ruston’s 800-m boys relay team of Jaden Osborne, Beason, McClinton and McPherson added a 17th-place finish while the Bearcats 400-m relay team also competed, as did Beason and Paige in the individual boys sprints.
The RHS girls competitors also did well at the Texas Relays, led by senior and Louisiana Tech signee Bryanna Craig’s second-place finish in the high jump. Craig also finished 20th in the 100 Hurdles event at the Texas Relays.
Ruston’s girls 1,600-m relay team of Jada Williams, Craig, Kiona McAllister and Shinaya Branch added a 13th-place showing for the Lady Bearcats while Williams also finished 20th in the 100-m dash.
“It was a great weekend and great experience for our athletes at Ruston High,” Whitaker said. “When you have national caliber athletes on a team, you want to put them in the best positions possible to compete against other national caliber athletes. That’s why we went to the Texas Relays — to give our kids the chance to compete against the best.”
Now the focus for Whitaker and his athletes is on the “Hoss” Garrett Relays.
“Ruston track and field prides itself on the traditions started by Coach Garrett and then carried over by Dave Anderson, who we honored during last year’s “Hoss” Garrett Relays by naming our track after him,” Whitaker said. “I always tell people that we stand on the shoulders of giants with Dave Anderson and ‘Hoss’ Garrett. And now with me taking over, I believe it’s my responsibility to keep that tradition alive.
“We honor ‘Hoss’ Garrett before the meet. Our kids — we go to the gravesite and we speak our peace and our seniors say their peace and what the program means to them. ‘Hoss’ Garrett is big for us, especially this year. We’ve been in Texas almost every weekend in March, so to come back home and compete in front of the home crowd is going to be special.”
Just as Anderson was honored last year, Whitaker said there are special plans for this year’s “Hoss” Garrett Relays.
“We’re going to honor our state champion indoor team — this is the first time the girls ever won an indoor state championship, so we’re going to acknowledge those athletes, we’re going to acknowledge our boys team and then we’re going to acknowledge our first-ever female national champion — Bryanna Craig (heptathlon).”
Byrd, Ouachita, Pineville, Wossman, D’Arbonne Woods and Cedar Creek will all compete in this year’s “Hoss” Garrett Relays.
“We had another big-name school, Lake Charles College Prep, pull out at the last minute. They’re doing some good things down there but had to back out,” Whitaker said. “So it’s not going to be a huge meet, but it still should be a great one.
“It’ll be competitive for us and will give our younger kids the chance to show their stuff in front of the home crowd. We’ve seen a whole lot of competition the past couple of weeks we’re going to put our kids in a few events just to let the home crowd see what they can do and then we’re going to shift our focus toward winning a state outdoor championship.”
Admission will be $7 with children 5 and under being able to enter free of charge. The pre-meet ceremonies will start things off at 3 p.m. with field events beginning at 3:30 p.m. and running events at 5:15 p.m.