Bunch repeats as state champion in 200

Published 3:45 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

BATON ROUGE — Mt. Hermon’s Gerald Bunch successfully defended his state title in the 200 meters and was fourth in two events, while Kalei Hughes reached the podium in the shot put and was sixth in another competition at the Class B state championships at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium on Thursday.
Bunch, a senior who won the state title in the 200 last year, was victorious once again this year. The senior ran the event in 22.87 seconds, finishing ahead of Simboro’s Brendan Jackson, who completed the race in 23.08. Castor’s Chris Mosley also made it to the podium after running a 23.09.
“It felt good to win,” Bunch said. “Repeating the in the 200, it felt good to win that and holding my title in the 200.”
Bunch talked about his 200 race.
“I knew I had to go catch the No. 4 and 5 lanes,” Bunch said. “They were the fastest ones. They had the best times. I caught the runner in the fourth lane in the curve and then I knew I had it. I think my stride won me the race.”
This was Bunch’s second time at state.
He said last year helped out, but also added more pressure.
Bunch nearly made the podium, which includes the top three finishers in each event, in the long jump and 100.
He finished fourth in both and had a pair of close finishes.
Bunch, who was the 2016 state champion in the long jump, tied Glenmora’s Jerian Brandly for third this year at 20 feet. The tiebreaker is the second best jump. Brandly’s second best mark was 19 feet, 11 inches. Bunch’s second-best jump was just an inch behind at 19-10. Hathaway’s Trenton Guidry was the state champion at 21-0 and Quitman’s Hunter Ford was second at 20-7.
Hughes, a sophomore, was competing in the state meet for the second time. Last year, she was sixth in the javelin. This year, she was back to compete in the javelin, and for the first time, the shot put.
Hughes, who was in her first year of throwing the shot put, reached the podium in the event after coming in third place with a distance of 29-6. The 29-6 came on her fifth attempt. Weston’s Hillary Underwood was the state champion at 31-2.75 and Patrick Taylor Science and Technology’s Eric Wallace was second at 29-10.
“At first, it was kind of hard. I couldn’t get out of the 28s and I just did it,” Hughes said. “I thought about coaches and what they’ve done for me. I want to thank Mrs. Ashley Guy, coach Troy Stevens and Mrs. Junie Painter. If it wasn’t for them and for all of the support Mt. Hermon School gave me, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Prior to competing in the shot put, Hughes competed in the javelin. Thursday was a cool, windy day and Hughes said that competing in the javelin helped her get loose.
“It got my lower body a lot loose. I was really, really tight in the javelin and then once I left the javelin, I felt loose in the lower half. The top half was still a little tight, but after that second to last throw, I was feeling real good.”
Hughes finished sixth in the javelin for the second-straight year. This year, Hughes increased her distance nearly seven feet from last year’s state meet and threw a 107-2. Hughes’ distance at the state meet last year was 100-3. Castor’s Kelsey Gidden won this year’s competition at 125-8, with Holden’s Kaylee Hughes second at 115-0 and Castor’s Kelly Willis third with a throw of 114-11.
Hughes felt last year’s experience at the state meet helped her this time.
“It kind of helped my nerves,” Hughes said. “Last year, I was really, really uptight and felt like an underdog. This year, I came in here with a lot of confidence and I felt really good.”
Also reaching state individually for Mt. Hermon was Device Taylor. Taylor took fifth in the 300 hurdles after running in 46 seconds. Guidry won the championship in 41.49. Castor’s Kory McGee was second at 44.51 and Grace Christian’s Sam Pruett was third in 44.98.
Mt. Hermon’s 4×200 relay team of Dwayne Elzey, Keondre Bunch, Trey Roberts and Gerald Bunch was seventh in the state for Class B, after running their race in 1 minute, 39 seconds. Simboro was the champion, with a time of 1:35. Quitman was second at 1:35.30 and Glenmora rounded out the top three at 1:36.79.

Mt. Hermon’s Gerald Bunch is pictured in the long jump. He finished fourth on a tiebreaker in the event (20 feet). The senior won his second-straight state title in the 200 meters (22.87 seconds) to cap off his high school career. He was also fourth in the 100 (11.29). He missed making the podium in the 100 by just 0.02 seconds.

Mt. Hermon’s Kalei Hughes prepares to release the shot put during Thursday’s Class B state track meet at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.

Mt. Hermon’s Gerald Bunch competes in the 100-meters during the state meet.