By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports
Competing against some of the top teams and individuals in the sport of outdoor track and field from the southern region of the U.S., three athletes representing their local Catholic high schools excelled against the stout competition in the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Track and Field Classic on March 23 … just as they did in the 2018 LHSAA championship meet.
The track at Tad Gormley Stadium was no match for St. Katharine Drexel Prep senior hurdler Alia Armstrong and distance runners Mary Nusloch of the Academy of the Sacred Heart and Cade Martin of Holy Cross, who claimed the fastest times in their specialties.
Armstrong, a signee at Louisiana State University, not only won two events, but she also ran the nation’s fastest 100-meter hurdles for high school girls by posting a 13.37 clocking. That time would have placed her eighth in the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships this year.
She added a victory in the 400-meter dash in a time of 55.26 later in the day. That effort was the sixth-fastest in meet history, and her combined races earned her the meet’s Outstanding Girls’ Track Performer trophy.
Armstrong did not start competing until her junior year at Drexel Prep. Her star shined brightly in her debut outdoor season, leading her school to the state Class 2A team title by setting records in winning the 100-meter (14.11 seconds) and 300-meter hurdles (43.34). She also anchored the Yellowjackets’ victorious 4×200- and 4×400-meter relay teams, which recorded the respective times of 1:43.93 and 4:02.06.
Nusloch, the reigning Gatorade Louisiana Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year in 2018-19 and state indoor champion, broke free of her competition in the Sugar Bowl’s 3,200-meter run by the third of eight laps. Nusloch’s winning time of 11:25.60 was 19 seconds faster than her nearest competitor, whom she beat by more than 60 yards.
Nusloch’s time surpassed her winning time of 11:34.98 in last year’s Class 3A state meet. She had also won the 800- and 1,600-meter runs in that LHSAA event.
Prepping for his confrontation with Brother Martin’s Hunter Appleton in the forthcoming District 9-5A meet, Cade Martin easily won the Sugar Bowl’s 1,600-meter run against competition that included the St. Paul’s duo of Jonathan Bertucci and Patrick Elliot, who finished third and fifth, respectively.
Martin posted a 4:28.50 in winning the race. Appleton ran a 4:32.47 in a recent meet at Episcopal High in Baton Rouge, and a 3,200-meter time of 9:22.58 in another March event.
St. Augustine’s Devin Coatney finished second in the boys’ triple jump when he recorded a distance of 44-6 1/2 on his final jump of the day. Another Purple Knight – Timothy Cola – was also a second-place finisher in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.50 seconds.
A toss of 168 feet, 5 inches gave Jesuit’s Zack Battaglia second place in the javelin throw.
Academy of the Sacred Heart’s 4×800-meter relay team of Emily LeBlanc, Olivia Boyd, Olivia McGoey and Nusloch placed second to Mandeville. The Cardinals’ time of 9:45.19 was less than a second slower than the winning team.
LeBlanc and Boyd were part of the bronze medal 1,600-meter relay team in the 2018 Class 3A state meet.
Ouachita Parish (boys) and John Curtis (girls) were high-scoring teams in the Allstate Sugar Bowl meet. Sacred Heart placed eighth with 26 points and Drexel Prep 11th with 20 points.
Ron Brocato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.