PACESETTERS: Six girls headline local prep T&F scene

LEAN AT THE LINE: Benton’s Jamie Willis (at right) at the finish line in last year’s 5A state meet at LSU

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

The 2022 outdoor track and field season gets started tomorrow afternoon with the Shamocus Patton Benton Tiger Relays. There are several girls in Caddo-Bossier who are among the best in the state, based on the final 2021 MileSplit Louisiana event-by-event performance lists. Here are six local standouts to watch this spring:

Airline’s Brianna Taylor – Before she follows in her father’s footsteps and heads off to ULM to compete at the collegiate level, Taylor will have one more high school season in which to impress area high school track and field fans. Brian Taylor, the defensive coordinator at Airline and former defensive back for ULM, is her dad. Brianna ranks No. 4 in the state among 100 meter runners (11.89). She is also the No. 6 returner in the 200 meters (24.83).

Byrds’ Nicole Flowers – A River Cities Track Club teammate of Taylor’s in the summer, Flowers has overcome numerous injuries during her high school career. The good news is that she is healthy going into the spring and is determined to make her last season her best season. Flowers is tied for No. 6 in the 100 (12.01). She is also ranked No. 13 in the 200 meters (25.51).

Bentons’ Jamie Willis – The Lady Tiger was a bit of a surprise during the 2021 season. She made up for losing her freshman season due to Covid. It seemed as if she improved every week. She is No. 8 among in both the 100 hurdlers (15.33) and 300 hurdlers (46.68). While not ranked among the best in the state in the long jump and triple jump, she is capable of scoring some valuable points in those events for the Lady Tigers in the District 1-5A championship, which will be held at Benton in late April.

Parkways’ Mikaylah Williams – She is not only one of the best basketball players in the nation, she is also one of the best discus throwers in the state with a 2021 best of 121-8.5. That ranks Williams at No. 6. Coach Kent Falting will have to wait until after the Lady Panthers finish basketball, hopefully with a state championship Saturday, before he sees Williams, who will also be defending her District 1-5A high jump (5-0) title this spring.

Parkways’ Chloe Larry – The softball player had never picked up a javelin until Falting took one out to softball practice to see if any of those Lady Panthers could sling it. Also a basketball star, Larry threw it over 100 feet on that trial run, without any training. Later, at the District 1-5A Championship, Larry launched a 120-0 throw. With that effort she is the No. 14 returning javelin thrower in the state of Louisiana.

Huntingtons’ Serenity Palmer – The junior is one to watch in the jumps. She had a best of 5-2 in the high jump. That is tied at No. 14 among returning high jumpers. She is also dangerous in the triple jump where she has a best of 35-8, which ranks her 18th in Louisiana. As her first name would suggest, Palmer is a joy to coach. “Gotta love her,” Huntington head coach LeRonn Burris said. “She is an awesome individual.”


Pacesetters: Pacesetters: Five standouts in local prep boys track & field

Photo by KYLE VALDEZ, MileSplit Louisiana