Wildcat track stars sign at next level
Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 27, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
RESERVE — The East St. John track and field program celebrated the signing day of six senior athletes Friday in a special ceremony held at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium.
Darius Lipps, Ayonte Thomas, Dominique Gray, Bi’shan Caston, Elizabeth Scioneaux and Ciera Eugene each made their college choices official and took pictures with their home stadium’s track as a backdrop. Lipps and Scioneaux are headed to the University of New Orleans. Caston and Gray will attend the University of Mobile in Alabama. Eugene is ticketed for Nicholls State and Thomas will attend Southeastern Louisiana University.
“I really enjoy days like this,” said East St. John track and field coach Mark Creecy. “I can keep watching them compete at the college level. All of them are at a 3.0 or higher in the classroom with the ACT score to go along with that. They’ve done the job on both ends.
Thomas, who specializes in hurdles and jumping events, said she had lost faith that a collegiate career was in the cards. But a strong senior season caught Southeastern’s eye.
“I’m really excited,” Thomas said. “Just to be noticed by somebody … I’m looking forward to getting my hurdle times down and going further with my jumps.”
The lone member of the ESJ boys team to sign Friday, Lipps, a sprinter, said the signing represents something of a second chance.
“This season didn’t go as I really wanted,” Lipps said. “Some injuries, no state medal. (UNO) is giving me a chance to pursue my dream. It’s beautiful. It makes me want to work harder than ever before so I don’t let it go to waste.”
Scioneaux said that while she had offers to go out of state, the Ladycats’ top jumper really wanted to stay close to home.
“I was looking for a school nearby,” said Scioneaux. “I’m very close with my family. It’s a big relief. It feels like all the things I’ve worked for are here. I’m looking forward to getting out there. I’m a very competitive person and I don’t crack under pressure.”
Eugene showed herself to be something of a natural this season, earning a scholarship in her first and only season with the team. It was an abbreviated one at that — Eugene joined the squad after softball season ended and showed to be a quick study in the javelin.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” she said. “It was crazy going against people who had much more experience. I kind of shocked myself.”
Creecy said noticed Eugene on the soccer field in her first seasonas goalkeeper.
“She wouldn’t punt the ball, she’d throw it,” Creecy said. “And she’d be throwing it to the middle of the field. Then I saw her moving around out there and thought, ‘Wow, she’s a pretty good athlete, too.’ So she was an interesting prospect and I asked her to come give this a try. We’re glad she did.”
Caston and Gray, both distance runners, will continue on as teammates at Mobile.
Caston has competed in track and field since her fifth grade year but began specializing in distance running in her freshman season.
“Coach (Paul) Dupuy had me running in cross country and after my first year, I just started getting better at it,” said Caston. “It gave me the idea that I could be that kind of rare person that runs distance (for the track team).”
Added Gray, “It means a lot. I’m going farther than I thought I would. I put in a lot of work and practice to get better and its paying off.”