The Benton girls couldn’t close DeRidder’s gap while the Benton boys were surpassed by West Ouachita on Wednesday in the Region I-4A track meet.
But the primary objective for area track and field teams this week is to qualify as many athletes as possible for the state track meet in Baton Rouge this coming week.
And with two second-place finishes, Benton track coach Scott Carroway said this mission was accomplished.
“There were a couple of disappointments, but overall, to qualify as many as we did, you’ve got to be pleased with that,” said Carroway of the 16 events in which a Benton athlete or team finished in the top three to qualify for state. “Any time you finish second in the region with both boys and girls, you’ve got to be proud of that.
“This region is pretty tough, and there are a lot of state champions that will come out of this region.”
Benton shared the co-track MVPs between sprinter Dorsavian Williams and distance runner Drake Heinz.
Williams won the 100 (10.90) and 200 (22.19) while Heinz captured the 1600 (4:37.83) and the 3200 (10:13.18).
“Dorsavian is young, just a sophomore. He runs strong races and he’s getting very consistent,” Carroway said. “We didn’t run Heinz in the 800 so he can focus on 1600 and 3200 at state.”
Heinz is the reigning 3200 state champion when he beat Northwood’s Dylan Oliver. Oliver is going back to state with a third-place finish at regionals Wednesday.
West Ouachita’s depth in distance running, consistent relays and certain field events like the pole vault propelled the Chiefs to a 98.3-87 win over Benton. North DeSoto (68.3), Northwood (58) and Fair Park rounded out the top five.
On the girls side, DeRidder’s strong field performances guided them to a 100-87 win over Benton with Bastrop (55), West Ouachita (53) and Huntington (50) finishing in the top five. There 16 teams each of boys and girls.
DeRidder scored 56 of its 100 points in the six field events, but Benton nearly erased a 25-point DeRidder lead on the track.
DeRidder’s Jacqueline Rushford scored 30.5 points with first places in the 800, the 1600, a part of the 4X400 relay and a second-place finish in pole vault.
Benton’s Brittany Black led the field charge with second-place finishes in the 100, 200 and was part of a first-place 4X100 and second-place 4X200.
The cool temperatures and high winds stifled many eye-popping times or distances, but it didn’t stop Woodlawn’s Victoria Walter.
Walter earned the most outstanding performance award with a long jump of 18-feet, 4 inches, moving her to third-best in the state this season.
“I feel good about it,” Walter said, and the second-year jumper added that she started at 15 feet and has built up to more than 18 feet now. “I was very surprised when they told me (the distance). I thought it was a 17-something. I wanted to jump up and cry.”
Walter, now a junior, placed sixth at the state meet this past season. Walter also won the triple jump Wednesday at regionals with a jump of 36 feet, which ranks in the top 10 Louisiana marks this season. She’s been triple jumping just for five meets.
North DeSoto’s Jessica Trammel won field MVP by winning the high jump (5-feet-2), and placing third in the long jump and triple jump.
Bastrop’s Desiree McHenry won track MVP with first-place finishes in the 100 and 200.
North DeSoto’s Christian Boyd took home the high-point award, doing the most damage in his specialty hurdles events.
The junior won the 110 hurdles (14.70) and the 300 hurdles (39.70). Neither were his best times this season, but he ranks in the top four in Louisiana in both the 110 and 300.
“It’s not only speed, but you’ve got to have technique, too,” Boyd said. “The wind affects your time slightly, but I felt strong today. I feel pretty good about going into state and winning.”
Boyd is the reigning Class 3A 110 hurdles champion, but he’ll compete in 4A at state this season.
Northwood’s Kwaume McGee grabbed field MVP honors by winning the long jump (21-feet, nine inches) and high jump (6 feet, 2 inches).
McGee jumped 6-feet, 10 inches this past week to tie Louisiana’s best mark this season along with Airline’s Cameron Rice among others.
McGee has been high jumping since the seventh grade, but his long jump win comes in just his second week of practicing that event.
“I’ve been high jumping since the seventh grade … so the technique to get off the ground is the same in both events,” McGee said. “I was surprised that I won.
“I started long jumping the week of district (meets) because our team needed the points.”
Fair Park’s Jerome Wynn garnered most outstanding performance by winning the triple jump (46 feet, 1/2 inch), finishing second in the long jump, placing fifth in the 400 and was part of the third-place 4X200 relay.
Wynn is the reigning indoor triple jump champion.
Full results from Region 1-4A, Region 1-5A and Region 1-1A should be available in Friday’s print edition. Region 1-2A will host its track meet Thursday at Lee Hedges.