When Tanisha Briggs finished her anchor leg of the 4X400 relay, the Huntington celebration began.
Huntington boys coach Leronn Burris yelled, “We won!” while Lady Raiders’ Teyairra Wynans and Asia Cole, who were still on the ground winded from their legs, reached out to each other in congratulations as the program won the Region 1-4A championship for the first time in more than a decade.
The Lady Raiders won the final race Wednesday to secure 76-68 win over second-place Benton with North DeSoto (61) taking the lead late in the meet only to finish third.
“The coaches told us right before the race that if we won, we would the (region) title,” said an out-of-breath Briggs, who capped a 4:15.30 race. “It feels awesome. We’ve never made it to state. Now we’re at state in so many events.
“We put in a lot of hard work during practice, and we always keep God first. We do what we have to do with dedication and determination.”
Briggs won the 800 (2:28.34) by a wide margin with Dixon leading the way as the track MVP. Dixon won the 200 (25.75), finished second in the 100 (12.60) along with first places in the 4X100 (51.23) and 4X200 (1:45.70). Coach Leslie Hammond guided the Lady Raiders to the title.
Benton’s Dor’Savion Williams had a little party of his own after recovering from a hernia injury that delayed his track season by more than a month.
He won the high-point award to lead Benton to a runaway title with 84 points, besting second-place North DeSoto (64) and third-place Leesville (62).
Williams won the 100 (10.93), the 200 (22.11) and will be going to state with the 4X200 team with a third-place finish (1:32.09). The top three finishers in every event of the regional meet qualifies for the state championship May 9 at LSU.
“It’s tough coming back, but it was tough sitting out for a month and watch my team,” Williams said. “My goal was to work as hard as I could to get back to the level I know I can run at.
“I’m pretty close to being back, but I’m not quite there. But I believe I can get back to where I was. It feels great to win a regional championship and be headed to state.”
Benton’s Jordan White (discus, 133-05) and Colin Milton (javelin, 159-06) added wins in their respective events. White won field MVP with a third-place finish in the javelin.
The Benton girls stacked up points for an early lead in the field events, headlined by a Rheagan White win in discus (93-11).
But Woodlawn’s Victoria Walter grabbed the spotlight by tying her career personal record with a 18-04 in the long jump and notching a win in the triple jump (35-02). Her efforts won her most outstanding performer.
“At first I wasn’t hitting the board, and I told myself that if I didn’t hit the board, I couldn’t jump (18 feet),” Walter said about her long jump. “I kept moving up and moving back, and finally on my last jump — boom, hit the board.”
North DeSoto’s Jessica Trammel won field MVP, taking the high jump (5-4) and finishing second to Walter in the long and triple jumps.
Fran Wilson led the Lady Griffins track efforts by winning the 100 meter hurdles (16.11). Leesville’s Aleyah Donald took the high-point award by winning the 100 (12.39), the 400 (1:01.56) and finishing second in the 200.
Loyola’s Kaitlin Tanner swept the distance events by taking the 1600 (5:39.73) and 3200 (12:27.48).
Other girls’ winners include West Ouachita’s Ruby Gentile (300 meter hurdles, 48.45); DeRidder’s Kimberly Rushford (pole vault, 11-06); Neville’s Dalisha Lawrence (shot put, 35-04) and DeRidder’s Summer Thomas (javelin, 116-04).
Boys distance runner Dylan Oliver is going back to state, but he said he’d of been happy if his career would have ended Wednesday.
That’s because Oliver surged from fifth to first place on the final lap of the 3200-meter run, taking the lead around the halfway point of the last lap.
“If it was going to be my last (3200) race as a senior, I wasn’t going out like a punk,” said Oliver, who won the track MVP. “Once I got rolling (on the last lap), I just kept going.
“I was definitely surprised that I caught up as quickly as I did, I honestly thought others would have had more of kick.”
Oliver added a 1600 (4:40.75) win as well. Northwood teammate Kwaume McGee took the long jump (22-03.50).
North DeSoto’s Christian Boyd dominated the hurdles events with wins in the 110 (14.10) and 300 (37.93).
Other boys’ winners included DeRidder’s Deonte Wright (400, 49.38); West Ouachita’s Jansen Nowell (800, 2:02.13); Neville’s 4X100 realy (42.59); Bastrop’s 4X200 relay (1:29.67); Bastrop’s 4X400 (3:28.12); North DeSoto’s Chase Walker (high jump, 6-00); West Ouachita’s Daniel Sams (pole vault, 13-00); Leesville’s Quinderious Thompson (triple jump; 46-00.5) and Neville’s Courtney Wallace (48-02).
Editor’s Note: A Huntington athlete from the 2000 team said the Lady Raiders won a region title. The original article reported that Huntington’s last district title came in 1993.