NATCHITOCHES — Episcopal School of Acadiana coach Laura Magann took a deep breath and surveyed the final celebration going on around her. And then she smiled.
“It was their vision that we were going to get double championships,” Magann said. “I guess when you create a vision like that, you put in the work to make it happen.
“So here it is. They did it, and I’m so proud of them ... both teams. Our girls weren’t ranked No. 1. But they all agreed they’d win this today.”
Magann soon rejoined the celebration that started when the ESA boys won their second straight Class B boys cross country title to help open the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Cross Country meet Monday.
It concluded when the Falcons completed the sweep by winning the Class B girls title. The Falcons also had the individual champions in Samantha Withers and Henry Schneider. The two-day meet concludes Wednesday with competition in Classes 3A through 5A.
Schneider summed it up best after winning the 3-mile boys race in 16 minutes, 47.15 seconds.
“Our school had not won cross country state for about 10 years, and the last two years we’ve come out on top,” Schneider. “It’s awesome to be part of this.”
Two other streaks involving schools from outside the Acadiana area also were big news. Gabrielle Jennings of Slidell’s First Baptist Christian won an unprecedented eighth straight individual title in the Class C girls race. Jennings, a Furman signee, recorded the day’s best girls time of 18:27.65. The Episcopal boys claimed their 20th straight state title in Class 2A.
The effort of the ESA teams was just as notable. Schneider ran in a pack with teammates Daniel Magann and Ellis Hernandez.
“I was a little nervous going in because I’ve had a bit of soreness in my foot,” Schneider said. “We really emphasize running in a pack, and there were a few of my teammates in front of me for a while. I slowly got separated.”
ESA was dominant in the boys race, posting the low score of 23 points to outdistance Anacoco with 95.
Daniel Magann was third in 17:04.03, while Hernandez was fourth in 17:29.72, giving the Falcons more than one leg up on their second straight title. Riley Nickel (eighth) and Oliver Vreeland (ninth) completed the scoring for the boys squad.
The girls race was much closer. The Falcons edged Pitkin by four points. ESA finished with 48 points, while Pitkin had 52.
Withers and teammate Aline Malek broke away from the pack and finished more than a minute ahead of the next closest runner. Withers won in 19:43.54, while Malek finished right behind at 19:43.53. Abby Langford was sixth for the Falcons.
The other notable Acadiana finish came in the Class 1A girls race. Ascension Episcopal’s Kirsten Landry was second in 19:08.84.
“This was a really good year for us,” Withers said. “We had a group of girls who worked very hard to PR and progress.
“I just tried to do the best that I could and hang out with my teammate Aline Malek and finish strong. I think pacing myself and throwing in some surges was the key.”
Laura Magann praised Withers for her leadership skills, saying she made sure Malek was right behind her.
“It takes work to do what they (ESA teams did),” Magann said. “They earned it.”