From left: St. Louis freshman Rhea Thompson, Washington-Marion junior Darren Duhon, Westlake junior Kaitlyn Tunks and St. Louis senior Blair Henderson, not pictured, have been named the 2013 Cagle Award winners. The award, named for the late Kenneth “Bobby” Cagle, a local businessman, former state legislator and track enthusiast, has been awarded since 1971. It honors Calcasieu Parish’s top high school track and field athletes. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, June 08, 2013 5:48 PM
Blair Henderson spent a lot of time on his own this high school track and field season while dominating the local competition en route to repeating as the Class 4A 800-meter champion.
Henderson is the lone senior and repeat winner of the Cagle Award, which honors Calcasieu Parish’s top high school track and field athletes.
The award is named for the late Kenneth “Bobby” Cagle, a local businessman, former state legislator and track enthusiast, has been awarded since 1971. Calcasieu Parish’s high school track and field coaches vote for two boys and two girls in track and field events.
The other three winners are underclassmen receiving the honor for the first time. Darren Duhon, a Washington-Marion junior, is the boys field winner after finishing second in state in the Class 4A shot put. Girls winners are Westlake junior Kaitlyn Tunks, the Class 3A 800-meter champion, and St. Louis freshman Rhea Thompson, who won both the shot put and discus while helping the Saints win the Class 4A state title.
After being edged out by three-hundredths of a second in his first race of the school year in Alabama, Henderson went undefeated and was unchallenged in most races.
He narrowly missed setting the state record at the state meet in Baton Rouge, where he will compete for LSU beginning next season.
Henderson said he wanted the record too badly to get it.
“I went way too fast for the first 200,” he said. “I was too amped up and felt a little pressure to break the all-time record.”
Henderson easily picked up his second state title, winning with a time of 1 minute, 53 seconds. He said the year was not tainted by missing out on the record at the state meet.
“I did a lot of learning over the year as far as pacing myself,” he said. “I started off strong running a 1:52 during the indoor season, then set a new personal record with a 1:50.3 during the outdoor season, then ran a 1:50.03 this past week at the Plaquemine Invitational.
“I am still trying to break the 1:50 barrier and will run at the Southwest Classic in New Mexico and the New Balance meet in Greensboro, N.C.”
Henderson said he will miss his classmates at St. Louis.
“At St. Louis, the student body is so supportive in every sport,” he said “They all accepted me in and they all had my back and wanted to help in any way they could. Now I am looking forward to going to LSU and being able to compete with and train with people on my level. In high school, not a lot of people want to run the 800. At LSU there is a great support system and my event will get more respect than it does in high school, it will be more appreciated.”
Duhon said his improvement is due to his throwing coach, Fred Galloway, who returned to Washington-Marion this year.
“I have been throwing for two years. People kept telling me to throw because of how big I am,” said Duhon. “I liked it when I first tried it so I kept with it. It took me a while.
“Once Galloway came to be my coach this year, he taught me how to throw, the technique. He is great. I am going to keep working on the techniques through the summer; I think I can still improve.”
Duhon said qualifying for the state meet was the highlight of his season. His best throw was 52 feet at the regional meet, an improvement of more than 4 feet over his best throw as a sophomore.
“I was so happy at regionals to make it to state,” he said. “At state, I was a little shy at first, but then I just put my mind to it. Next year, I want to get back to state and win it all.”
During the fall, Duhon plays offensive guard and defensive tackle on the football field, following in the footsteps of older brother Joe, who recently finished his college career at Southern Mississippi.
Duhon’s bloodlines and massive frame draw a lot of attention, but he prefers to be a quiet leader.
“I like the responsibility of having to be there for the team,” he said. “I get a lot of attention. I like it, but it gets to be too much sometimes.”
Tunks made her third appearance at the state meet this year, finding the podium twice with the win in the 800 and a second-place finish in the 400. She also ran the 200 and mile for the Rams. As a freshman, Tunks finished second in the 800 and fourth in the 400. As a sophomore, she was third in the 800. She was determined to make it to the top of the podium this year.
“It was exciting to win,” she said. “I finally conquered my goal. I improved a lot in indoor this year. I ran 2:19, my personal best, during indoor, and did not have any injuries. At state (the outdoor meet), I wasn’t trying to run my best time, just trying to get a win, because I had to come right back and run the 400. I came through the first 400 in 67 seconds, then just kept my pace so that I had enough race for the 400, which was the next event. I only had about 10-15 minutes between events. I was happy to get second in the 400, it is hard to race them back-to-back.”
Tunks said she prefers the 800.
“It is challenging,” she said. “It is the hardest race. It is fun to know you can run something that is so hard, especially at my size. You need endurance and speed, not just one or the other. My dad (Ricky) has helped me with my form and blocking everything out. My coach, Casie Doucet, has helped with my endurance and workouts.
“I like the 400 because it’s fast and is a sprint the whole time. It is fun to run a sprint with all the tall girls and win at my size. It takes two of my strides to match one of theirs, but it is fun and I have a lot of heart.”
Tunks said she has bigger goals in mind for next season.
“I want to break the state record and get down to a 2:14,” she said.
Thompson moved up in class this year after transferring from Class 1A Hamilton Christian, where she won the shot put and finished second in the discus as an eighth-grader while helping the Warriors to a second-place team finish.
Thompson’s two wins this year helped give St. Louis a lead it didn’t relinquish throughout the meet. She set personal records of 39-8 in the shot put and 129-6 in the discus.
“I started off fast in the shot put,” she said. “After the first set of throws, I was feeling pretty confident. I knew my second throw (the winning one) was a good one right away.
“I like the shot put, it goes by fast and you can just go out there and throw it. The discus takes a lot more concentration, the technique is much harder.”
Thompson began throwing after being approached by a coach. She was hooked after the first indoor meet.
“It was something that was natural,” she said. “I didn’t win that first time but I knew I just had to keep practicing. I liked it right away, the competition makes you want to work harder. Once I won at a meet, I kept wanting to do that, then I started setting goals.
“I always want to finish first and do my best. I want to continue to win and set new records and to win state indoors and outdoors. I want to get up to 43 feet in the shot put and 137 in the discus.”
Posted By: Silvin Soileau On: 6/9/2013
Title: silvin soileau @ aol.com
always do the best you can & and try to make it a record !!