THE VIKING WAY Leads Airline to 1-5A Sweep!


The Viking Way.

It was more than a hashtag Thursday evening at Benton High School where Airline won both the boys' and girls' divisions of the District 1-5A Championships for the first time in school history. For the girls' team, it was only the second district title in school history. 

If the catch phrase were a picture, it would be senior Elena Heng flying through the air in the long jumping. Or throwing a javelin.

Heng, who has only competed in two track and field meets this season due to her involvement with the softball program, picked up two new events this week at practice--the long jump and the javelin. She only practiced for four days. 

Despite having never competed in those events before, Heng, who has signed with the LA Tech softball program and will play in the outfield for the Bulldogs next year, won the district championship in the long jump (16-6) and finished third in the javelin (114-5). 

She also ran a gutsy 800m where she closed on the two-time defending district champion--Byrd's Laila Wells. The two battled to the finish line and Heng came away with the win with a time of 2:27.81. Wells finished with a 2:28.21. 

Heng's 28.5 points were big as the Lady Vikings beat host Benton, 152-125. 

While Heng's performance may have come by surprise, what Kezyriah Sykes did for the Lady Vikings came as no surprise. She has been performing at a high level for the Lady Vikings all year.

The sophomore won District 1-5A titles in both the 100m hurdles (15.20) and 200m (25.92). She also finished second in the 100m (12.38) to her teammate Jaycie Wallace (12.23), who led Airline's winning 4x100 (48.43) and 4x200 (1:44.99). 

Sykes was awarded the Girls Track MVP. 

Yet another Lady Viking who made a massive impact on Airline's district-winning performance was junior Janiyah Boudreaux, who scored 26.5 points. Boudreaux won the triple jump (33-9), finished second in the high jump (5-0), and finished third in the 100m hurdles (16.78). Boudreaux also ran a leg on Airline's 4x100.

With the Parkway Panthers putting on a clinic in the distance events, the Vikings needed a distance runner of their own to step up and get points when it mattered the most--at the end of the meet. They found their guy in sophomore Jayden Williams, who ran a 10:30.73 in the 3200m to finish third.

That was exactly the Airline coaches needed him to do in order to seal the win. After the race, many of the Airline coaches gave Williams a hug after 3200m.

"I'm just glad I have the opportunity to be on this team," Williams told the coaches.

The Viking Way. In word and deed. 

Senior Jeremiah Boudreaux continued a magical senior season by running wind-aided times of 13.97 in the 110m hurdles to capture the district title. It was more of the same in the 300m hurdles, where he had to run into the wind over the last 100m and still finished with a 37.39, which beats his state-leading time from the "Hoss" Garrett Relays earlier this season. 

Boudreaux's day started with a personal record jump of 6-8 in the high jump. That beat his previous personal best of 6-7.5 at last year's LHSAA Class 5A State Outdoor Meet where he finished as the runner-up. 

While the usual smile is on Boudreaux's face for the team victory picture, there was a much different countenance on his face as he slowly made his way to the front to take a seat in front of his teammates. He was disappointed with the outcome in his final assignment of the evening. 

While he already had three gold medals going into the 4x400, Boudreaux wanted one more as he anchored the Vikings' 4x400m relay team. He received the stick ahead of Parkway's Will Achee, who Panther head coach Kent Falting referred to as "Jesus" because of his full beard. Achee , who won the open 400m earlier in the meet (49.21) played the part--passing Boudreaux, and being the savior for the Parkway 4x400 relay team.

While Falting may have not been happy with relinquishing the District 1-5A crown to Parkway's cross-town rivals, he could not be upset with how his Panthers performed--going No.1 and No. 2 in every distance event. It marks the first time in the history of the school to accomplish the feat. 

It started in the 1600m where Brennan Robin won with a time of 4:33.65 and Gabe Falting was the runner-up with a 4:41.26, just ahead of Williams (4:42.18). In the 800m, Robin and Falting traded places--and emptied the tank. Falting won with a 1:56.03 and edged out Robin (1:56.54). 

Before Thursday night, only Rocky Johnson (1:51.58) had ever broken 1:57. The spectators watching the 800m at Tiger Stadium witnessed the No. 2 and No. 3 800m runners in school history. And two of the top 10 800m runners in District 1-5A history. 

For a finale, Parkway's 3200m runners put on yet another show for the fans. Alex Gomez and Ben Ruliffson battled it out down the stretch. Ruliffson won with a 10:20.77. Gomez finished with a 10.82.

C.E. Byrd dominated the girls distance events. Spencer Frierson won the 1600m with a 5:15.55, breaking the school record held by Jenna Key, who finished second with a 5:18.86. In the 3200m it was Key (11:25.66) winning her final district championship while Frierson was the runner-up with a time of 11:41.73. 

Benton took home District 1-5A MVP honors in both girls and boys field events. Sadie Hamby, who scored 24 point including a district 1-5A championship in the discus (116-3.5), was the girls' MVP while Marc Perry won the MVP in the boys' division. Perry won the triple jump (45-8), finished second in the high jump (6-2), and got third in the long jump (20-10). 

Other highlights for the Tigers included Miller Malley's school record and district championship in the Pole Vault (14-10). His teammate Jeff King knows the feeling, King, who won the district championship on Thursday with a throw of 183-2, broke the school record late last month with a throw of 201-9 at the Bossier Parish Championships. 

Also, Benton's Addyson Hulett scored more points than anyone at the District 1-5A Meet. Hulett, who will continue her career at Dallas Baptist University, won the pole vault (9-6) and 400m (57.04). She also finished second in the 200m (25.94) and third in the 100m (12.44). 

Hulett broke her own school record in the 400m and set a new school record in the 200m. 

While all is well that ends well for Hamby in discus, things certainly did not go her way in the prelims after hustling to the discus ring from the javelin. After fouls on her first two throws, the University of Central Arkansas signee had to play it safe on her third throw to even make the finals, where she won the competition on her final throw.

It was the same thing in the boys' discus where Lionel Prudhomme failed to get marks on his first and second attempts. He was finally able to get a good thrown on the final throw in the prelims.

In the finals, the junior launched a throw of 165-0.5. It gave Prudhomme the upset win over the Parkway's Devon Oliver (163-8.5) who is the defending LHSAA Class 5A State Champion. 

Oliver bounced back to win the shot put with a throw of 49-6. 

While they battled it out in the discus ring on Thursday, the two will battle it on the field in the Fall. Oliver is one of the most highly sought after defensive lineman in North Louisiana while Prudhomme is one of Louisiana's best offensive tackles. 

In the girls throwing events, Parkway Jayla James (34-11) won her third-straight district championship. For Chloe Larry in the javelin, it was her fourth straight district championship. Larry was the runner-up at the LHSAA Class 5A State Championship last year with a personal record throw of 130-11.75. 

Athletes and coach who finished in the top four now turn their attention to next week's Region 1-5A Meet which will be held on Wednesday at Northwestern State University.