Jackson Parish didn’t send as many athletes to the LHSAA state track and field championships as some this past Thursday and Friday but the ones who went did well. Very well! No make that remarkably well!
A total of thirty athletes from JHHS, Quitman and Weston swarmed the Bernie Moore Track Complex on the campus of LSU with 17 from Quitman and 9 from Weston competing on Thursday in Class B and 3 from JHHS seeing action on Friday in Class 2A.
Six times, thinclads from Jackson Parish won state titles. Silver medals were won in five events along with a bronze in one giving the three local schools podium placements (first, second, third) in 16 total events.
Add to the fact that local schools earned points in nine more events then the sum total comes up to 30 athletes scoring in 25 events against the best the state has to offer.
Quitman High School: Had the most participants with 17 and paced the parish with six total medals, including three gold winning performances. Leading the way was Emma Carter winning the high jump for an incredible third year in a row, equaling a school and parish record of winning three straight state titles. Bryan Lay also turned in a repeat championship performance claiming his second straight gold medal in the pole vault and the boys 4×200 meter relay team of Geoffrey Maxwell, Jayden Harts, Brayden Smith and Nathan Harvey shaved nearly a full second off their previous best to win a third state championship event. Harvey also won a silver medal in the 110 meter hurdles as did Neysha Johnson, Maddie Grace Giddens, Emayshia Wiley, and Bethany Leach in the girls 4×100 meter relays. The four also won bronze inn the 4×200 meter relays.
Quitman had several others score points including 8th grader, Kaleigh King, who burst onto the state scene with a fourth place finish in the pole vault and coming in fifth in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles. Brayden Smith and Taylor Huddleston was fourth in the 200 meters and 1600 meters respectively while Lily Kate Odom finished fifth in the triple jump. Gage Horton and Sebastian Guinn also scored points with sixth place finishes in the 3200 meters and shot put.
Jonesboro-Hodge: An old saying is that dynamite comes in small packages. JHHS had the smallest contingent of any local school with only three participants but made a very loud noise with two gold medal and two silver medal performances. Talk about getting your money’s worth!
Savantez Phillips, Zion Gray and Caira Gray all turned in career best performances with both boys winning their respective events and Gray coming in second in the two she competed in. Phillips ran a blistering 14.35 in the 110 meter hurdles, almost a half a second faster than ever before, to earn national elite second team performance honors by LA Milesplit.com. Not to be outdone, “Zee” Gray soared nearly two feet further than his previous best to win the triple jump. By winning two silver medals, including her performance in the triple jump that earned a second team national ranking by Milesplit.com, Ciara Gray proved that she is the next in the long line of generational JHHS female track athletes. The talented freshman also came in second in the 300 meter hurdles, compiling a time of over a second and a half faster than at any time this year.
Weston High School: By claiming a state championship in the shot put and a silver medal in the discus Jalexia Claridy put herself into contention of being the Class B top performing female athlete in field events. Jayden Simmons also scored points for the Wolves with a sixth place finish in the 110 meter hurdles.
For a complete recap of all events, times, distances as well as individual and team final results click here. Then go to meet results and click on Louisiana Class B and Class 2A state meet.
2023 LHSAA State Track and Field Championships