Oh, So Close! Bad breaks relegate JHHS boys to 3rd place at state track meet

Woulda, coulda, shoulda! That is the summary of the Jonesboro-Hodge boys track team experience at the Class AA state meet held on Friday at the Bernie Moore Track Complex on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge.

The final result found the Tigers coming in third place with 54 points to finish behind Class AA state champion Lafayette Christian (68) and Episcopal of Baton Rouge (57) in the meet that was composed of both “select and “non-select” schools. In effect, the Tigers have the solace of being the “public” school state champion but that still doesn’t take the sting out of what could have been.

Woulda! The third-place team finish was impressive but taking home the state championship trophy was a real possibility. Were it not for a couple of bad breaks the Tigers would have had at least 12 more points added to their total which would have been enough to give JHHS the Class AA title.

“We had a great shot at winning it all,” reflected a proud but disconsolate JHHS head track coach Terrance Blankenship. “I am very proud of the way the guys performed. Were it not for a couple of bad breaks it was a winning effort.”

Coulda! The Tigers suffered their first bad break came when Savantez Phillips, who was among the leaders at the time, unfortunately fell in the 110 hurdles event. The 15.76 time that he posted enroute to winning the regional meet would have easily bettered the 16.00 seconds run by the eventual third place finisher which would have given JHHS six points. Phillips may have even had a shot at second (15.51 seconds) which was in his ability to run.

“I really feel bad for Savantez as he deserved a better fate,” said Blankenship. “He gave us everything he had this spring and was one of the main reasons we were in the position to compete for the title.”

Shoulda! Even with the unfortunate mishap in the hurdles the Tigers should have at least brought home the Class 2A runner-up trophy. Heading into the final event, the 4×400 relay, all JHHS had to do was finish third in the event to wrap up second place. They did just that, setting off a celebration that ended up being short lived when it was learned that the team had been disqualified for running out their lane.

“A review of the race showed our guy cut into the other lane for just a few strides coming into the curve,” acknowledged Blankenship.

The result was that instead of beating Episcopal by three points for second overall the Tigers ended up in third by the same total. Episcopal High head coach Claney Duplechin knew his team, that had won six straight Class AA championships prior, was fortunate to claim the runner up trophy.

“I do feel bad for Jonesboro-Hodge,” said Duplechin. “That is a tough way to finish. If there is no DQ, they beat us by three points.”

Individual results: The Tigers had several competitors that had posted times and distances in district and regional competition that promised strong finishes. They didn’t disappoint either. Leading the way was Devontae Mozee. After earning first team, all state honors in football, all district in basketball and now sharing a state title in one event and finishing in second in two others, Mozee earned the right to be considered one of the most versatile athletes in Jonesboro-Hodge history.

The Louisiana Tech football signee closed out his outstanding prep career by leaping 6’6” to tie for first place in the high jump, jumping 44’ 2” for second in the triple jump and garnering another silver medal when he turned in a career best 41.21 seconds in the 300 hurdles.

Justin Calahan also turned in a great performance by leaping 21’ 7.5” to win the long jump and finishing third in the triple jump after soaring 43’ 8.5”to give the Tigers second and third in the event. Cameron Leonard did his part to give JHHS another double podium placement when he ran a 41.67 to come in third in the 300 hurdles.

Class 2A State Track Meet Final Results
1. Lafayette Christian 68
2. Episcopal 57
3. Jonesboro-Hodge 54
4. Oakdale 31
5. East Feliciana 30
6. Kentwood 30
7. Newman 25
8. Dunham 23
9. Mangham 23
10. D’Arbonne Woods 20

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