March 27, 2002

While most locals were running in either the Caddo meet or the Bearkat Relays at Bossier, Jonathan Wade was in Texas trying to complete a sweep of that state's top sprinters.

He had already beaten Edorian McCullough of Class 5A North Garland and Brandan Christian of Class 4A Austin Reagan in sprints earlier this season, but over the weekend he went up against DaBryan Blanton of Class 3A Forney at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays in Dallas.

Wade surpassed the meet record in the 100 with a finish of 10.29 (previous record 10.30), but Blanton was a nose ahead at 10.26. It was Wade's first loss of the year.

In the 200, the roles were reversed, as Wade - breaking his second meet record of the day - won the 200 to hand Blanton his first defeat. Wade crossed the finish line in 20.83 (previous record 21.23), just ahead of Blanton (21.13).

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This just in: Evangel Christian Academy's Jonathan Wade lost a race Saturday.

News flash No. 2: DaBryan Blanton of Forney, TX., also lost.

Two of the nation's best high school sprinters were 1-1 in head-to-head duels at Haggar Stadium in Dallas in the Jesuit-Sheaner meet.

Blanton, who had the nation's fastest time in the 100 meter dash (10.30 seconds) last year, managed to hold off Wade's late charge in the 100 by a couple of inches. His meet record time was a fully automatic 10.26 seconds. Wade (10.29) also broke the old record. Both had 10 flat hand-timed.

The 200 meter dash wasn't that close. Wade passed Blanton in the curve and was in control for the rest of the race. His time was 20.83 seconds, a meet record. Blanton ran a 21.13. Hand times were 20.5 for Wade and 20.8 for Blanton.

They'll probably meet again in the Texas Relays, and possibly in a couple of postseason meets.

Wade is building a strong case for himself as the fastest sprinter Louisiana has ever produced.

During the Woodrow Turner Memorial Shreveport Relays at the Bossier High track two weeks ago, I was asked to compare the Evangel sprinter with Rocket Rod Richardson of Fair Park, who was listed as the national record-holder in the 100 for five years.

If you use the stopwatch as a yardstick, and that's usually what they use in track meets, there is no doubt that Wade is No. 1.

Richardson was a great sprinter. He later won an NCAA 60-meter indoor title while he was at Texas A&M. But questions have persisted about his 10.20 in the 1980 state meet, that was listed as the record until Roy Martin of Dallas ran a 10.18 in 1985. Many observers, including this one, doubt that Rod's 10.20 was fully automatic.

Richardson never broke 21 seconds flat in the 200 (or 220 yard dash, as the Louisiana High School Athletic Assn. switched to metric distances between his junior and senior years). In the longer sprint, he didn't make All-State until his senior year.

Wade ran a hand-timed 20.7 and fully automatic 20.95 as a junior, and has broken 21 seconds several times this year. Saturday's times (20.5 hand-timed, 20.83 FAT) are his best so far.

Other great Louisiana sprinters have turned in similar times once or twice in their careers, but nobody has come close to the consistently of Wade, who has signed a football letter of intent with the University of Tennessee.

With or without a tailwind, no Louisiana sprinter has matched either of Wade's Dallas times with fully automatic timing since Jermaine Sharp of Ouachita Christian was credited with a 10.20 in 1993. The same year, Woodlawn's Marcus Hall had a wind-aided, hand-timed 9.8 at Caddo Parish Stadium.

Both of those marks were questionable. Sharp won the Class 2A state meet with 10.78, and that was the only time Hall broke 10.4. He was second to Warrick Dunn of Catholic (Baton Rouge) with 10.77 in the state meet, despite a pulled muscle that hampered him in the last three weeks of the season.

The other sprinter who ran a wind-aided, hand-timed 9.8 at Caddo Stadium, Michael Taylor of Green Oaks, is the only local athlete who won back-to-back 100 state titles in the top class. He also had a pulled muscle at the end of his senior season, but that was the only time he ran faster than 10.1.

Jerry Byrd is sports editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune and an award-winning columnist. You may contact him at (office) 747-7900 or (home) 865-6711. Fax number is 747-5298. E-mail address is (home)