by Jerry Byrd // GeauxPreps.com Contributor
SHREVEPORT – What a difference a year makes.
Last year, Byrd head track coach Juan Plaza had to store away the medals and T-shirts he received from the title sponsor of the Yellow Jacket Relays-Sportspectrum-as Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards closed all schools in Louisiana on Friday, March 13th, less than 24 hours before the meet.
Plaza pulled the medals and T-shirts out of the closet this week and–toward the end of the 2021 Yellow Jacket Relays-was able to put two gold medals around the neck of his distance runners.
In the boys division, Byrd junior Trent Wells, not only won the 3200, he broke Cedar Creek’s Gabe Poulin’s meet record of 10:00.14 set in 2017.
It’s the second time this year Wells, who recorded a 9:59.19, has dipped under the 10 minute barrier. At the LHSAA State Indoor Meet last month, Wells broke the 10 minute mark in the 3200 for the first time with a school record 9:56.
Byrd’s Bryn Peters, running without any serious threat, won the girls 3200 with a time of 12:14 to give the host Jackets a sweep in the event.
“I’m very proud of Trent and Bryn’s 3200 victories,” Plaza said. “Their progress goes back to June of last year. They started their momentum during cross country in the Fall and it carried them through the indoor season where both made a mark on the Byrd Track and Field record books.”
Wells’ record-breaking performance was one of 13 at the Yellow Jacket Relays, the largest meet in North Louisiana.
Ruston High School, which led the attack on the record books, was responsible for six broken records–three in the boys’ division and three in the girls division.
Bearcat Ke’Travion Hargrove set a new Yellow Jacket Relay best in prelims of the 100 meters with a time of 10.79. The Bearcat distance runners were responsible for the other two–winning the 3200 meter relay with a new meet record of 9:15.85. The Ruston Distance Medly Relay (1200, 400,800,1600) set a new meet best with a 10:36.94.
Three Ruston girls’ relay teams won and set new meet records. The Lady Bearcat 400 relay (47.71), 800 meter relay (1:40.21), and DMR (13.31.78) all made their way into the Yellow Jacket Relays record books. Both the 400 meter relay and 800 meter relay times were also school records.
“I was very impressed with our record breaking performances yesterday,” Ruston head coach Allen Whitaker said. “When Coach Plaza sent over the meet records a few weeks ago, we decided as a team that we wanted to break a few. Our girls sprints are sprinting really well right now. Our 800 meter relay relay ranks 5th nationally right now. Those girls are phenomenal.”
Tucked into the Northeast corner of Arkansas, Paragould High School is roughly 375 miles away from Lee Hedges Stadium. Olivia Hancock was on her way to the meet last year when she got the word that the meet was cancelled.
The West Point commit had to turn around and go home.
Hancock made up for lost time on Saturday by breaking the girls’ discus record with a winning mark of 134’7.
It wasn’t the only record broken in the girls’ throwing events, on her third throw of the competition, St. Louis junior Emma Freeman launched a meet record 125’0. The throw was 10 feet further than any of Freeman’s other efforts.
Byrd’s Caitlin Byrd finished second in the event with a personal record of 104’6, which is No. 2 in North Louisiana behind D’arbonne Woods’ Kenly Smith’s 106’6.
BTW’s Chyler Turner continues to leave her legacy on Northwest Louisiana Track and Field. The senior, who is committed to Duke University, lowered the meet mark in the 300 hurdles (44.56), holding off Ruston’s Corlasia Scott, who is ranked No. 2 in the state behind Turner.
Other meet records were set by St.Louis in the girls 3200-meter relay (10:34.50), Ouachita’s boys 1600 meter relay (3:20.74), and Natchitoches Central’s Ojemakinde Oluqalebenga in the boys shot put (52’5).
St. Louis Catholic completed the meet with 164 points to lead the girl’s standings, followed by runner-up Ruston with 123 points. The Bearcats’ dominating 158 points bested the boy’s standings, well ahead of St. Louis’ 71 points.
Girl’s Top 10 Final Team Standing
1. St. Louis, 164; 2. Ruston, 123; 3. C.E. Byrd, 76; 4. Huntington, 48′ 5. B.T. Washington-SH, 41; 6. North DeSoto, 36; 7. Mansfield, 32; 8. Cedar Creek, 18; 9. Parkway, 15; 10. Captain Shreve, 14
Boy’s Top 10 Final Team Standing
1. Ruston, 158; 2. St. Louis, 71; 3. North DeSoto, 64; 4. C.E. Byrd, 60; 5. Natchitoches Central, 59; 6. Mansfield, 46; 7. Ouachita Parish, 28; 8. Huntington, 21; T9. Parkway, 18; T9. Southwood, 18