BENTON – Huntington’s boys fought off tough challenges from Benton and North DeSoto to win their third straight meet, and Benton’s girls nearly doubled the point total of the next closest competitors to take the team title at the 2016 District 1-4A Track and Field Championships hosted by Benton High School Thursday.
The Raiders, Tigers and Griffins were all separated by as few as five points late in the meet before Sam Kelly and the 4×400 meter relay team pushed Huntington over the top. The Raiders finished with 141 points, with Benton second at 121 and North DeSoto third with 105. Northwood came in a distant fourth with 60 points.
The Lady Tigers built a huge lead through the field events, then coasted in the track portion to win by 86 points over second-place Huntington, 192-106. Bossier placed third with 60 points, followed by North DeSoto in fourth with 57.
Individually on the boys side, Kelly was named track MVP, while North DeSoto’s Tim Howard took the field MVP honors. Bossier’s Xavier Venious was the high point scorer, and Benton’s Jake Norris took Outstanding Performer with a discus throw of 140’8.5”.
For the girls, Huntington senior Tanisha Briggs won track MVP, with Benton’s Rheagan White taking the field MVP award. North DeSoto’s Jessica Trammel was high point scorer, and Benton’s Mallory Gill was named Outstanding Performer in the javelin with a toss of 106’6”.
“I have to give a lot of credit for getting us off to a good start to our shot-put throwers (Ashanti Malone and Fard Burnell),” said Huntington coach Lerron Burris, who has led the Raiders to wins in the Shreveport Relays, the Wesley-Payne Caddo Parish Relays, and the District 1-4A Championships in consecutive weeks. “They came in one and two and gave us a little edge heading into the track events. Then Sam Kelly did a tremendous job down the stretch to help us get the win.”
Kelly, who has battled shin splints this season, finally felt strong Thursday, winning the 800 and 1,600 meters before running away from the competition in the 3,200. His 10:18.46 time in the 3200 was nearly 37 seconds faster than Benton’s Chandler Burns.
“I didn’t have a good week last week with the shin splints,” said Kelly. “I just kept asking God to show me a way, and, thankfully, He did that for me (Thursday).”
While Benton coach Barry Plunkett did not want to single out any individuals, he could not help but mention what White, Gill, and Breanna Bundy meant to the Lady Tigers’ success.
“We’re a real young team, with only one senior, but we’ve got a great tradition at Benton,” said Plunkett. “These girls went out (Thursday) and performed great. Breanna won the pole vault and did well in the 400 and in her relays (4×200 and 4×400), and Rheagan won the discus and was second in the shot put. That really boosted us.”
Thursday’s other district champs for boys include War’Vreunta Moore (Huntington, 100), Marquez Stevenson (Northwood, 200), Kaverea Applewhite (Huntington, 400), Venious (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles), Northwood’s 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams, Huntington’s 4×400 relay team, Chase Walker (North DeSoto, high jump), Connor Toms (Benton, pole vault), Howard (long jump, triple jump), and Caleb Brown (North DeSoto, javelin).
Other district titlists for girls include Ederia Ferguson (Huntington, 100, long jump), Ronesha Johnson (Fair Park, 200), Trammel (400, high jump, triple jump), Briggs (800, 300 hurdles), Camia Thompson (Woodlawn, 1600), Kiana Ruiz (Bossier, 3200), Peyton Reeder (Benton, 100 hurdles), Huntington’s 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams, Benton’s 4×400 relay team, and Peyton Singleton (Benton, shot put).
Benton will also host the regional meet Wednesday.