Story and Photos by Ron Brocato | CLARION HERALD
Let’s just say that, with the exception of two outstanding individual efforts, the results of the 2022 LHSAA State Track and Field Championship meet on May 7 were less than stellar for the local Catholic schools.
As was the spring campaign.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans has not had a team champion in Class 5A since 2005 when St. Augustine tied Barbe for the title. And the girls’ teams have not produced a champion since Academy of the Sacred Heart won back-to-back Class 3A trophies in 2018 and 2019.
Nor have those who qualified for the state meet win a single event on the track or in field events.
But there were two superior efforts displayed before a capacity crowd at the Bernie Moore Stadium track honors when Holy Cross junior Krosse Johnson carried his school to three gold medal victories, and Jesuit senior Jack Larriviere shattered the composite record in the javelin competition.
Johnson, a junior wide receiver on the Tigers’ football team, won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, tying one personal mark and breaking a second. He also anchored the 400-meter relay team with teammates Xavier Glaude, Ke’Rynn Smith and Koby Young to win that event in a team-best time of 41.27 seconds. Johnson’s contribution to the team’s 30 points and fifth-place finish was 22 1/2 points.
Larriviere recorded the nation’s best javelin throw of the 2022 season on his final attempt when the LSU scholarship winner heaved the spear 228-10. That Herculean effort marked the third time this season he has surpassed 200 feet, and erased the state record set by St. Paul’s Preston Chatham in 2005.
200 feet a difficult task
Since changing the weight distribution of the javelin in 2002, just three athletes from the three-parish metro New Orleans area have thrown more than 199 feet: Chatham with a 212-3 effort; Curtis’ Zecharish Blake with a 206-6 throw in 2018, and Larriviere, a quarterback whose efforts earned a track scholarship to LSU after considering to walkon to play football at Tulane.
Another story unfolded that relates to Jesuit track and field.
The Blue Jays’ team is laden with distance runners whose ages and grades range from freshmen to juniors. In November, seven of the team’s best runners set a state-record 22 points in winning the Class 5A boys’ cross country championship.
In that sport, the winning team consists of six runners who combine for the fewest points based on their position at the end of the race.
Led by sophomore Michael Vocke’s first-place finish in that event, Jesuit easily outpointed Catholic of Baton Rouge for the crown. Following him were junior Jack DesRoches, second; sophomore Lucas Sampedro, fourth; junior Robert Buisson, sixth; and freshmen Brady Mullen and Leland Crawford, ninth and 10th, respectively.
Having that much long-distance talent is an asset in cross country but hardly in track and field when only two may qualify for any one individual event. The rest are counted on to fill spots on relay teams. The result was that only Vocke, DesRoches, Crawford and Sampedro, Buisson and Patrick Dowd, another junior, earned a trip to Baton Rouge.
As he did in 2021, Vocke won the 1,600-meter run in 4:20.28. A year ago as a freshman, Vocke ran the four laps in 4:17.27 but had to be helped from the track due to exhaustion and didn’t race again.
The Blue Jays also won the 3,200-meter relay, behind the baton exchanges of Dowd, Buisson, Brady Mullen and Aeric Wender.
Crawford finished second to Vocke in the 1,600, and DesRoches and Sampedro placed second and third in the 3,200-meter run to account for Jesuit’s 46 points and third-place finish behind 19-time outdoor champion Catholic High of Baton Rouge and runner-up Ruston.
St. Augustine was the other local Catholic school to claim a victory when its 800-meter relay team led the field home in the time of 1:26.48. The foursome of Denim Charles, Zander Dunbar, Javan Nicholas and Tyriq Wilson surpassed their earlier best timeof 1:27.03.