For the past two years, the Breaux Bridge Tigers’ track and field program entered the state meet confident that they were going to win the Class 4A championship and they did.
But with the likes of Kavahra Holmes and Travin Dural no longer members of the program, the Tigers have found team success this year hard to come by. They have gone from winning every track and field meet they competed in last year to having won only one this season.
Nevertheless, head coach Brent Angelle remains confident his Tigers have what it takes to three-peat although it may be a little more difficult than it has been in years past.
“Things have been a lot different this year than they’ve been the last couple of years,” Angelle said. “In years past, we had a lot of pressure on us to follow through by winning the state championship, but this year we have not had that pressure.
“But we still have a shot to win the state title, so we shouldn’t be written off. We have a chip on our shoulder because we feel like we are being overlooked because we don’t have Kavahra and Travin. The kids on this team have something to prove.”
The Tigers, who have qualified in nine events for state, are going to need everyone competing in Baton Rouge today to make the most of their opportunities when their event is called.
“There are a lot of points out there for us to go get,” Angelle said. “I know that Karr is probably the favorite because they are going into the state meet with the top times and they have a lot of kids competing in a lot of events, but we have qualified in enough events to contend for the state title. The key is for everyone to perform the way they have performed all year. We have to score points in our events.”
Breaux Bridge is coming off of a solid performance at the regional meet, but it proved not to be enough as St. Thomas More outscored them en route to winning the regional championship. But Angelle is hopeful his squad headlined by Lamont Abraham and Jamal Zenon will perform well enough to extend the Tigers’ track and field dominance for another year.
“Losing in the regional meet wasn’t a wake-up call for us, because our wake-up call came at the very beginning of the year,” Angelle said. “We’ve only won one track meet this year after winning every track meet last year. That’s a wake-up call. I know these kids want to prove themselves and while they won’t admit it, they got tired of hearing Kavarha and Travin’s name when people talked about Breaux Bridge. They want to go out and prove that we are more than two people.”
The Abbeville Lady Cats entered this track and field season with grand expectations none of which were bigger than winning the Class 3A state championship for the second consecutive year.
With everyone returning from last year’s team with the exception of 2012 All-Acadiana Most Outstanding Track Performer Vonchelle Perry, it is easy to see why head coach Erik Lege and the Lady Cats entered this season with such high expectations.
“I think this team does have what it takes to win the state championship again,” Lege said. “I think so and the girls all think so and that’s all that matters. I know that on paper we’re not supposed to win or score a lot of points, but we are confident that we can.”
The Lady Cats, who will defend its Class 3A state championship today at Bernie Moore Track and Field Stadium in Baton Rouge, have qualified in 12 events this year and Lege believes that is more than enough for Abbeville to accomplish the feat of securing the program’s third state title in four years.
“The key for us is that we have to score points in the relays,” Lege said. “All year long, the relays have been our strong suit. But we had a bad day in the regional with bad conditions and bad handoffs. If we can have a good day in the relays, we should have a good day overall.”
If Abbeville is going to accomplish the feat of winning the state title they will need junior Katina Perry and sophomore Arrayia Starlard to excel in their events. Perry, who isn’t related to Vonchelle, qualified in four events (4x200m, 4x400m, 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles) and Starlard qualified in three events (4x400m, 800m and 1600m).
“The 300 meter hurdles is Katina’s strongest event, but she had a bad day at regional,” Lege sid. “But the state meet is where it all matters and she has an opportunity to prove herself. She finished second in the event last year and that catapulted us to a state championship.”
The biggest difference between the state champion Lady Cats of 2012 and this year’s team is the fact that they aren’t entering the state meet being able to claim first place in any event beforehand like they did last year.
“We’re not as good quality-wise as we’ve been in the past,” Lege said. “The key for us is to try and get as many points as we can in our events. We can’t say that we’re going to win this race or that we are going to win that race and that’s the difference.
“We definitely can win races, but we don’t know which ones we’re going to win. It’s night and day comparing this team to last year’s team, because we can’t make any predictions. I just hope we rise to the occasion and our girls normally do.”
Lafayette High head coach Ron Baillargeon and his Lady Lions’ track and field team are brimming with confidence as they enter today’s state track and field meet at Bernie Moore Track and Field Stadium in Baton Rouge arguably healthier than they’ve been in a couple of years.
“We are healthy or I should say we are healthier than we have been,” Baillargeon said, “but we’re not completely healthy.”
Baillargeon and the Lady Lions have been quite successful this season as they’ve won ever track and field meet they’ve competed in, including the indoor championship.
“I just have a bunch of warriors on this team,” Baillargeon said. “They are going to go out there and battle. These kids have worked so hard and they have trained so hard that they want this. They are fighters.”
Among the reasons for the Lady Lions’ success this year has been the performances by Kaylei Esfeller, Tylor Payne, D’Sharee Collins, Erin O’Neal, Erica Aucoin and Stephanie Self, all of whom will be competing at the state meet.
“Kaylei has run the fastest time in the 800m of 2:16.08 in the state this year,” Baillargeon said. “We took her out of the 1600m this year, but she is the prohibitive favorite in the 800m. D’Sharee gives us a real good chance at first place in the 400.
“She’s got the motor to win and our two shot putters can give us 18 points if they go and do what they did in indoor. Tylor is also in the mix in the 100, so, overall I think we have qualified enough to win state, but I think we’ll still need some help to do so.”