As the fall sports seasons at Woodlawn High begin, the Woodlawn Lady Panther Volleyball Team will be the first to take the courts. The Lady Panthers are looking to improve on last year’s 9-9 record in a season that was full of setbacks and delays.
Long-time Head Coach Nelson Malpica looks for leadership from six returning Lady Panthers. Leading the way is Junior Reagan McDowell, who was named to the 2020 All-District Team. Reagan will be joined by juniors Elyse Pitts and Marie Sierra, who look to add valuable experience to the Lady Panthers.
Senior Isabella Schamber and sophomores Branderia Graham and Kelis Conley are also expected to lead the Lady Panthers in the early parts of the season as other players gain experience.
“We need to work on improving early in the season, and hopefully peak in the playoffs,” said Malpica. “At the varsity level, we do not have a lot of depth aside from the six players we discussed. We will need others to step up on the varsity level.”
Coach Malpica looks to a talented freshman class, led by Lacie Sierra, to perhaps contribute early.
“Lacie played club and has experience from Woodlawn Middle. We think she can contribute very early in the season.”
The Lady Panthers are once again hosting two tournaments at Woodlawn. The Southland Invitational will be held September 3rd and 4th. The Rumble in the Jungle will be held September 24th and 25th. Outside of the tournaments, the Lady Panthers are looking forward to their District schedule as they look to improve from last year’s playoff experience.
The Lady Panthers will be on the court for the first action of the season in a scrimmage on Saturday, August 14th at 9 am. All tickets must be purchased online.
Season tickets can be purchased for the Lady Panthers by clicking here.
You Can’t Go Home Again. Not only is this the title of one of Thomas Wolfe’s most memorable works, it has also become a well-known and common phrase. However, Alicia Dedeaux is ignoring this advice and doing the exact opposite: Coming Home.
Woodlawn High School is excited to announce that Dedeaux has been named the head coach of the girls’ basketball team. In addition to her duties as head basketball coach, she will take on the role of PE teacher.
Dedeaux, a native of Baton Rouge, graduated from Woodlawn High School. She was a star-athlete during her time as a Panther, participating in basketball, softball, cross country, and tennis. She was recognized as an All-District and All-Metro basketball player.
“Timing is everything. To be able to return home to your Alma Mater as a head coach and former student-athlete is very special,” explained Dedeaux. “I desire to bring back Panther Pride through fostering healthy relationships with colleagues, parents, students, and the community. Together we can meet students where they are and ensure that they are able to continue to excel both academically and athletically.”
“I’m ecstatic to be back and looking forward to helping young ladies to reach their full potential on and off the court.”
Dedeaux has spent the last 16 years in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. After beginning her career as a head coach in Jackson, Mississippi, Dedeaux was named the head coach of the girls’ basketball program at Lee High School (now Liberty Magnet High School).
In the fall of 2009, Dedeaux was named the head coach of the girls’ basketball program at Glen Oaks High School. After spending one year at Glen Oaks, she was named the Athletic Director. Dedeaux has remained in both roles at Glen Oaks since that time.
“I think we have hired a high-quality, high-character coach to run our girls’ basketball program,” said Elmo Fernandez, Woodlawn High’s Athletic Director. “Coach Dedeaux comes to us with a great deal of experience and she has a proven record.”
Dedeaux resides in Baton Rouge with her husband and two children. She can be reached via email at [email protected]
For the first time in the school’s history, Woodlawn High School has claimed the 4×200 Meter Relay 5A State Championship.
The team of J’Marcus Sewell, Jordan Matthews, Lanard Harris, and Jay’veon Haynes out raced the field at Saturday’s LHSAA/Allstate Sugarbowl Class 5A Track and Field Meet. The team won the District Championship at Catholic High on April 22nd with a time of 1:27.90. On April 29th, the Panthers ran a 1:26.99 at the LHSAA Region II Meet, which put them second in the Region and the State behind Zachary.
However, the Panthers did not let the underdog status deter them. After the second leg of the relay, the Panthers found themselves in fourth place, behind Ruston, Zachary, and Dutchtown. It was at that point that senior Lanard Harris received the stick. Harris made up the deficit, and put anchor Jay’veon Haynes in a virtual tie with Zachary going into the final 200 meters.
Haynes did the rest of the work, out-sprinting the other competitors to the finish line. The final time of 1:26.14 shaved nearly a second off of their time at the Regional Meet. The time ranked the Panthers as the fastest 4×200 Meter Relay team in the state of Louisiana this season, and also placed them as the 17th fastest time in the nation!
In addition to the 4×200 Meter Relay, Harris placed second in the two individual events in which he qualified. Harris ran the 110 Meter Hurdles in 13.95, which was a PR in the event. In the 300 Meter Hurdles, Harris ran a time of 36.91. Any other year, that time would have not only made Harris the State Champion, but also the state Composite Record Holder. Unfortunately, the gold medal winner from Ouachita ran a 36.42. Both times broke the previous record of 37.40 from 2007. Harris’ time in the 110 Meter Hurdles ranks him 17th in the nation, and his 300 Meter Hurdle times ranks him eighth.
Sewell was also able to score points for the Panthers at the State Meet. As the only sophomore running against eight seniors, Sewell came in fifth with a time of 10.63.
With only four athletes, Woodlawn High finished seventh out of 38 teams who scored points.
The Panthers return a solid core of track athletes for the 2022 season. Student-athletes who are interested in participating in track should contact Athletic Director Elmo Fernandez at [email protected] or Kristin Guidry at [email protected].
Woodlawn’s Tennis Program has achieved many firsts over the past four years. The Panthers Tennis Program has traditionally been small, often not having the necessary number of student-athletes to fill a full team.
After a five-year span without tennis, the program was resurrected in 2018 and has quickly risen to heights never seen at Woodlawn High. The Medine twins, Halle and Leah, were a large part of the rebirth of the program.
“Going into high school, neither of us really expected to play high school tennis. We didn’t think there was a team because we didn’t hear anything about it,” reminisced Leah. “Coach Broussard brought it up to me one day because he heard from Coach Baronich that I played tennis. I was playing volleyball and lifting weights with Coach Baronich.”
The 2018 season saw Leah, as a freshman, reach the Regional Finals in the Girls’ Singles and advance to the State Quarterfinals. She topped her freshman campaign the next year, as she became the first Panther to win a Regional Championship. She went on to the State Quarterfinals again as a sophomore.
The 2020 season also saw a first for Woodlawn tennis. Spring sports were forced to end their seasons early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was difficult to imagine life going back to normal–student-athletes uniting to improve their skills, stands filled with cheering crowds, the unpredictability of the season ahead. The Panthers’ tennis team competed in only four matches before the season was abruptly cancelled.
Dylan and Brady qualified for the State Tournament by winning two matches at Regionals.
Though the 2020 season was cut short, the team has been raring to return to the court. Once restrictions eased, tennis players began practicing for the 2021 season in early January at Southern Oaks Athletic Club with Coaches Brent Broussard and Lucas Richardson. The enthusiasm to return is apparent looking at the impressive 2021 accomplishments.
The tennis program saw many improvements during the 2021 regular season. Even when the Panthers did not come out on top, the scores were much more competitive than in recent seasons. The hard work was then evident at the 2021 Regional Tournament.
For the first time in recent history, three doubles teams came away with victories at the Regional level.
The first team, senior Christian Jones and freshman Miriam Lindsay, finished their Regional run with a 1-1 record. Though they did not qualify for the State Tournament, it was quite an accomplishment to win their first round match!
Woodlawn’s second court boys’ doubles team were perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament. Coming into the tournament, Dylan Aucoin and Brady Bertrand had played only one match together. However, their athleticism and enthusiasm were apparent, as they advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals. Their two wins were enough to qualify them for the Division II State Tournament.
Finally, senior twins Halle and Leah Medine finished the Regional Tournament with a 4-0 record. After receiving the #1 seed in the tournament, the girls were given a first round bye. The Medine’s dispatched the competition rather easily, not losing a single set in the entire tournament. In the finals, the girls started slow against ED White. After falling behind 3-2, the Medine’s won ten of the final eleven games for the 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Winning the Regional Championship once again set some firsts for Woodlawn High School. Leah became the first two-time Regional Champion. The girls were also the first Regional Doubles Champions in school history. Finally, Halle joined her sister as the only two Regional Champions from Woodlawn High School.
Bertrand and Aucoin and the Medines qualified for the State Tournament thanks to their finishes at the Regional Tournament. The four state-qualifiers matches the number of qualifiers from 2018 and 2019 combined.
Halle and Leah entered the Division II State Tournament as one of the four seeded teams. The girls had three relatively easy wins on day one of the State Tournament, only dropping two games in their three matches.
Day two brought a familiar opponent, as the Medine’s faced their Regional Semifinal opponent from ED White. With a large crowd on hand, nerves and the “bright lights” got the best of the Medine’s during he first set, as they fell 7-5. However, Halle and Leah fought back to win the second and third sets 6-1, 6-4 to move to the Division II State Finals.
Seniors Leah, Christian, and Halle pose for a picture at the 2021 Regional Tournament.
“The competition was definitely harder at State, and it was my first time there,” said Halle. “I was very nervous in a lot of our matches, especially the semifinal match. That was something we had to work through.”
The 6-2, 6-0 win over Neville’s first court in the finals brought Woodlawn High its first State Championship in tennis.
Going through the process of rebuilding the program, followed by the year that was 2020, closing out their high school career as State Champions was extremely significant to Halle and Leah.
“I don’t know if it has completely hit us yet, but it is super-awesome,” Halle explained. “Just knowing that we can take this championship away from our entire high school career and our entire tennis career.”
Even with all of the wins and championships for the Panthers this season, they perhaps have an even more impressive stat. Despite the major focus on winning, the team was able to achieve an overall GPA of 3.9. Eighteen members of the 2021 tennis team also took advanced level courses this year, with several earning future college credit.
As the three senior girls prepare for life after high school, they leave behind a flourishing team of nineteen that has grown from nine their freshman year in 2018. The team will look to continue to improve as practices at Southern Oaks will begin in August of 2021 instead of January of 2022.
Freshman John Cador represented Woodlawn High School at the 2021 LHSAA Bowling State Championship Tournament on Tuesday, April 27th. Cador was the Panthers’ leading bowler this season with an average of 191.
Cador represented Woodlawn High with class. He averaged 192 at the State Tournament, which was held at All Star Lanes.
Cador was also named to the First Team All-District team. Junior Chaz Degree and sophomore Brendan Parenti were each named to the 2021 Second Team All-District team. Degree finished the season with a 136 average. Parenti finished the season with a 111 average. The Panthers finished the season with a 7-5 overall record.