And they’re off … and running for roses and gold

By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

Saturday, May 4, is a signature day for two events: the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Outdoor Track and Field meet for the best athletes in Classes 3, 4 and 5A.

The prizes for the winner of the “Fastest two minutes in sports” will be an arrangement of roses around the horse’s neck, and 60 percent of the $2 million prize money for the owner of the winner.

And on that day, the swiftest and strongest high school athletes in Louisiana will run,  throw and jump for gold medals in their specialties.

Who they are will have been decided at regional meets throughout the state. And, the New Orleans Catholic schools will supply an ample number of contenders for the top prize to be contested on the Bernie Moore Stadium oval at LSU on the first Saturday in May.

Among the returning individual champions from 2018 are Academy of the Sacred Heart’s Mary Nusloch and Brother Martin’s Hunter Appleton, again favored to repeat in the distance races.

At the 2018 state meet, Nusloch easily won the Class 3A 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, while Appleton coasted to victory in the Class 5A boys’ 3,200-meter run and placed second in the 1,600.

Ready for more titles

Relay teams from St. Katharine Drexel Prep won two events – at 800 meters and 1,600 meters. And although Tamara Guy has graduated and Alia Armstrong will only run on the 1,600-meter team, Cydni Samuel, Sanaa Morris and Ka’siah Banks are back and will join newcomer Jireya Banks in an effort to repeat that feat.

Drexel Prep and Sacred Heart tied for the team championship at the state indoor championship meet in February.

The amazing Armstrong ran the fastest high school time in the country this year in winning the 100-meter hurdles at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Track and Field Classic at Tad Gormley Stadium a month ago. Her time of 13.37 was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than her prelim time.

The senior, an LSU signee, won individual golds in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles at the 2018 Class 3A championship meet last year.

Looking for a second victory in the shotput is De La Salle’s Leah Kennedy, whose 37-4 mark in the state indoor meet is less than 2 inches off her winning toss of 37-5 1/2 at the 2018 outdoor meet.

The District 9-5A championship meet produced five individual and three winning relay teams in the boys’ meet at Gormley on April 19. Three girls won individual honors.

The busiest of the athletes was St. Augustine’s Timothy Cola, who won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.24, and anchored the winning 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams.

Jesuit’s Jacob Torres, who lost to Cola by .14 seconds at 110 meters, avenged the loss by edging Cole at 300 meters, 40.15 to 40.71 seconds.

Three more Blue Jays won individual golds: Aiden Devine bested teammate Michael Fitzsimmons to win the pole vault at 14 feet; Hunter Rousselle won the 400-meter dash in 51.47, and Jack Battaglia had the longest javelin throw of 174-3.

Also earning gold medals were Brother Martin’s Ethan Dupas in the 800 (1:59.51) and St. Augustine’s Devin Coatney by winning the triple jump (43-2).

Hope Shales of Mount Carmel was a double winner, taking the 1,600-meter run in 5:29.49, then adding the 3,200-meter run in 11:54.94.

Olivia Stant produced another Cub victory in the 300-meter hurdles for girls, in which she ran a 51.03. Stant also ran a leg on the victorious 1,600-meter relay team.

Two Archbishop Chapelle athletes earned gold and spots in the regional meet.

Brenna Macaluso had the winning discus throw of 97-4, and teammate Abby Reames gained her gold medal by winning the girls’ javelin at a distance of 103-10.

Alaina Becnel of Dominican had the highest pole vault.

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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