Local track teams running toward district meets

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 13, 2016

EDGARD — When he retired after more than 20 years of teaching and coaching girls basketball and track at Destrehan High School, Ulysses Frontha knew he wouldn’t just be sitting around his house.

His wife told him so.

What he didn’t expect, however, was to be coaching again so soon.

Lured to West St. John under the pretense of helping one of his AAU summer track athletes, Frontha soon found himself with a new job at a new school and wearing a new color. He blames former Rams football coach Robert Valdez.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you come help out a little bit?’” Frontha said. “Needless to say, he set me up.”

For the past three or four years (“They all run together,” he said) Frontha has been coaching the West St. John Rams and trying to adjust from life at a 5A school with more than 1,400 students to a little 2A school with less than 200.

“It’s different,” Frontha said. “For one thing, all your athletes tend to participate in all the sports. Football players play basketball, the girls play softball. You have a lot less time with them. You have to get a lot of work done in a lot less time.”

There also seem to be a lot less athletes who make time for track.

“I think interest in the sport has waned,” he said. “For one thing, a lot of the old coaches have retired. Back when I started, it was all the football coaches who coached track — and they were all the guys I ran track against when I was in school. A lot of them have gotten out of it. You don’t see guys who live it anymore.”

One thing Frontha is gratified to see, however, is that the athletes want to do well.

“They want to come out and they want to learn and they want to do great,” he said.

Frontha’s teams have been runner-up in their district the last two years, but this year will compete in Class 2A for the first time. This year’s district meet, which will include the Rams, Riverside Academy, St. Charles Catholic, Newman and Country Day, will be held Monday at St. Martin’s in Metairie.

Frontha has high hopes for several of his athletes, including junior Marcus Boudoin, who finished second at state last year in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 40.83.

His brother Lamore Boudoin should do well in the high, triple and long jumps, as well as the 800 meter relay.

Frontha also is excited about the return of standout basketball player Maya Trench, a state qualifier in 2014, who skipped last year’s track season due to injury. She will compete in all the jumps.

St. Charles Catholic coach Courtland Taylor saw his track schedule go from a full 10 meets to five this season, largely thanks to the unpredictability of Mother Nature.

“It seems like, some people, when their meets get rained out, it’s like somebody has done them a favor,” he said.

Even without a track of its own, St. Charles has managed to nurture a roster of more than 50 athletes. The school sent three athletes to last year’s State Meet and two girls, Gabby Boesen and Victoria Portillo, competed at this year’s Indoor Meet for the first time.

This year’s team also includes eighth grader Rashad Davis, who competes in the mile and two mile runs.

“He’s really a special kid,” Taylor said.

Taylor has high hopes for the Comets’ 400 meter relay team of Tahj Smith, Jacoby Johnson, Eric Lewis and Jayce Snoden, but added, “they have another level they can go to.”

Riverside Academy sent a busload of athletes to last year’s state meet, but some of those have moved on, including 200 meter state champion Von Julien.

Coach Joe Trosclair said he also is having trouble getting his team ready for next week’s District 12-2A meet because of this spring’s tumultuous weather. The Rebels have only competed in two meets.

“We haven’t had meets to compete in this year,” Trosclair said. “I have two scheduled for this week and it’s supposed to rain again.”

The Rebels will be leaning on a couple of veterans. Jujuan Bell advanced to last year’s State Meet, competing in the high jump and the triple jump. He has improved from a distance of 38 feet, 2.75 inches in the triple jump to a distance of 43 feet this year. Riverside’s relay teams did well last year — the 400 meter team finished second — and Trosclair expects this year’s to do well.

Newcomer (to track) Jalen Banks will run on the 800 and 1600 meter relay teams and compete in the 400 meter run.

First year East St. John coach Jerome Wilson also has battled the weather in trying to get his team ready for its District meet April 21 at Thibodaux High.

Among the contenders, he said, are senior Da’Monte Coxie, who took first place in the long jump (21-10) and the triple jump (44-6) at the Central Lafourche meet on April 4. DeAndre Milton was second in the 200 meters with a time of 22.44.

Angelique Johnson is a contender in the triple jump. She finished third (32-9) at Central Lafourche.