OCS Wins 4th Straight LHSAA 1A State Championship!


2024 LHSAA State Outdoor Meet Results From Thursday!

Every year, the Ouachita Christian track and field program has a motto. This year, the motto was simple. One word, actually-- Encourage. It was based on the Bible verse 1st Thessalonians 5:11- "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up."

The motto--and the verse--could not be more fitting as OCS claimed their fourth straight boys state championship at the 2024 LHSAA Class 1A State Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Baton Rouge on Thursday. OCS scored 77 points on the day, 23 more than runner-up St. Martin's Episcopal. Highland Baptist was third with 48 points. 

"It's hard to separate the boys and girls," OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh said via text on Friday morning. "Both programs compete and encourage one another together on a daily basis. I just reminded all of them how difficult it is just to compete at the state meet. I'm proud of all of them and so many that we had competing had their personal records yesterday although they might not have placed as high as in years past. Those personal records are something to be proud of."

Senior Tate Hamby, who accounted for 30 of OCS's points, was the one who needed encouragement early on in the meet when he fouled on his first three attempts in the long jump and failed to make the finals after entering the competition with the No. 2 ranking in 1A. 

"I started warming up, I felt amazing," Tate Hamby said. "I went out there, I was like 'let's go.' The first jump was a scratch. I said alright, I'll scoot back a little bit. The second jump was a scratch, I was like 'alright, this is weird. The third jump I was like I just have to get a mark now. I scooted back, still didn't get a mark. It just wasn't meant to be."

He found encouragement from his coach after the event.

"He said 'I know you are mad..you've never done that bad, but you've got to bounce back. You have three more events. You have to keep your head straight and we have to go win a state championship'." Hamby said. 

Hamby did just that.

In the 110m hurdles, Hamby seemed to play it safe at the start, causing him to get out of the blocks slower than the rest of the field, but he quickly made his way to the front of the pack and was able to pull away from a familiar Monroe rival--St. Frederick's Montrell Conner to get his day back on track. 

Hamby won with a school record 14.57. Conner, a sophomore, was the runner-up with a time of 14.71. 

He would finish with wins in both the high jump (6-3.5) and the 300m hurdles (38.70), breaking his own school record for the third consecutive week. 

"I told him during the meet and after the meet what I was most proud of him about yesterday was the complete composure that he showed after I know he was so disappointed about the scratching three times in the long jump which was his first event," Fitzhugh said. "He did not fall apart with his emotions, attitude, nor body language. For him to flush that frustration out of his system and run the 110 hurdles in a new school record for the third week in a row was simply amazing because the hurdles are so technical. He has a great disposition. He never gets too high or too low about things. He has definitely left his mark on OCS athletics." 

Before the hiccup in the boys long jump, the Eagles were soaring early on in the meet with success in the throwing events where shot putter Ryder Bentley and javelin thrower Noah Lovelady came away with state championships in their respective events.

Bentley was the favorite going into the shot put. After a couple of sub par throws on his first two attempts, he put it all together on the third throw in the prelims with a toss of 50-6.25. His teammate, junior Jackson Mann had a throw of 48-6.75, good enough for third place.

During the shot put competition, both Bentley and Mann kept their eye a few shot put throws away where their teammate, Lovelady, was competing in the 1A javelin against the defending state champion and 2023 state runner-up. Throughout the competition, they could be heard shouting words of encouragement to Lovelady.

It worked.

Lovelady saved his best for last, unleashing a throw of 184-1 to move past St. Martin's Elio Bejaran and upset the defending champion.

For Hamby, Bentley, and Lovelady, all three are soon to be leaving Monroe to continue their athletic and collegiate careers on the football field and in the classroom. Hamby will be a safety for Vanderbilt. Bentley will be an offensive lineman at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Lovelady, a linebacker who broke the school record in career tackles, plans to attend Louisiana Tech where he will major in engineering. 

All three were asked what they will miss about being in the OCS track and field program. All three had the exact same answer.

"The brotherhood."

That is Encouraging, for Fitzhugh and his coaching staff, who now look forward to 2025 and bringing the fifth straight boys track and field championship trophy home to Monroe.

According to Fitzhugh, the four-year period of success that the OCS program has enjoyed has been unprecedented--in any classification--in the history of the LHSAA. The Eagles have amassed 463 points in LHSAA State Meets. 

Highland Baptist sophomore Tyler Blissett added to his state championship resume on Thursday by winning the 1600m (4:43.91), 800m (2:00.55), and 3200m (10:27.54) . For his distance triple efforts, Blissett won the meet's MVP Award. Blissett now has eight state championships heading into his junior year. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Stay tuned for more coverage from yesterday's LHSAA State Outdoor Championships, including Louise McGehee's second consecutive state championship, Doyline's Izayla Harris completing her career with 11 state titles, and the Durham Twins leading Gibsland-Coleman to their second consecutive state championship.