Long Beach boys and girls track teams shine during 2021 season
By Andy Kanengiser
Long Beach High track teams never seem to rest very long or take leisurely vacations.
It just seems to be part of the DNA of the 2021 Long Beach track and field team led by head coach Charles Allen. The goal for the new season isn’t too complicated, but it is succeeding.
“Student-athletes are expected to compete to their best ability,’’ Coach Allen says.
The Bearcats typically experience March as their busiest track month. That included the 3:30 p.m. meet on March 11 at the West Harrison High Hurricanes track in Gulfport. That’s followed by the March 20 all-state relays at Ocean Springs High. The Biloxi High “Sabbatini Relays’’ is booked for March 25.
It doesn’t slow down in April for the Maroon and White. During spring break, Long Beach athletes run their fastest at the Mobile Challenge of Champions April 2. Spectators will be limited at the Alabama event presented by the Mobile Sports Authority.
“There are no vacations for track team members,’’ says assistant track coach Erin Biancamano.
Later in the month, the Bearcats will seek first-place finishes at the 5A district meet in Hattiesburg April 8, and regionals on April 15 also in the Forrest County city. The South State competition is set for April 24 at a site to be announced. The MHSAA state championships will be Saturday, May 1, at Pearl High.
Biancamano knows the Long Beach High track teams very well, especially daughters Brooklyn Biancamano (Class of 2022) and Camdyn Biancamano (Class of 2023). Camdyn is also a Lady Bearcats soccer player.
Both girls and boys track teams shined at the Rock-A-Chaw Relays on February 27 at the St. Stanislaus School in Bay St. Louis.
During that winter meet on a Saturday, several Bearcats recorded their season bests at Rock-A-Chaw Stadium.
Season bests for the Long Beach boys at Bay St. Louis included senior Arnage Caston with the high jump and triple jump; junior A.J. Allen with the long jump; seniors Johnny Pham on pole vault, along with Julien Taylor tossing the shot put. Junior Richard Bourland excelled with the discus.
Recording season bests for the girls team were Natalie Crapps of the Class of 2024 on the triple jump, junior Marlanna Moore on the long jump and high jump, along with senior Jakiyah Holland on the shot put and discus.
At the March 6 meet at Pass Christian, the Bearcats also stepped up their game. There’s a long list of first place runners, including Muonie Pickens and Amaru Jones in the 100; Muonie Pickens and Arnage Caston in the 200; Brooklyn Biancamano in the 1600 and 3200 meter races, along with Nathaniel Mink in the 800. Other first-place winners were Johnnie Pham in the pole vault, Arnage Caston competing in the long jump and Jakiyah Holland tossing the shot put.
The Long Beach boys and girls achieved first-place finishes in relays, too.
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic that’s facing so many people across the globe, it’s been a season of challenges for Long Beach track teams.
The Long Beach High track on the East Pass Road campus is unusable in 2021. The problem resulted from a water pipe leak under the track.
“The pipe is broken because of the winter freeze,’’ Coach Allen said. That required workers to dig up a section of the track to get to the leak. As a result, Long Beach school officials cancelled all three home meets this season. That included the Olan Welch Invitational in the Friendly City. Across Mississippi, many cities were hard hit by the February ice, sleet and snow.