NATCHITOCHES — Episcopal School of Acadiana coach Laura Magann informed media members planning to take photos or video that she had no plans to take off her hat.
The cold and windy conditions at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Cross Country meet made hats and gloves a necessity, even for a coach.
If circumstances were different, Magann would have tipped that hat to her own team. Oliver Vreeland finished ninth overall to help lead the Class B Falcons to their first state title in boys cross country since 2001 on Monday at Northwestern State.
“It’s very easy to talk about this race and their effort today because they gave their all,” Magann said. “But more important is the work that they put in to get here today.
“These guys have been running together since the summer, determined to get better. It’s paying off for them. It was a pack effect. They came in one after the other, and that’s what we’ve practiced over and over and over again.”
Pack effect or pack attack? No matter which terminology you prefer, ESA illustrated it while finishing with 43 points to lead the Acadiana area contingent on the first day of the annual two-day meet.
Traditional power Choudrant was second at 63, just ahead of Anacoco in the 17-team competition.
Simsboro’s Colton Cochran won the Class B individual title in 17:00.34. Runners from six other teams crossed the finish line before Vreeland placed ninth in 18 minutes, 23.66 seconds. The Falcons then took three of the next four spots.
Henry Schneider was 10th, while Brayden Hernandez (11th) and Riley Nickel (13th) followed. Evan Bramlett placed 15th to close out the scoring for ESA.
“They got it right today … they nailed it,” a smiling Magann said.
Vreeland admitted that he and his teammates didn’t know exactly what to expect when the race started. Runners who started fast, typically wilted even in the cold temperation.
“We all try to run together,” Vreeland said. “It’s what we’ve done all year.”
The Falcons placed fifth behind Choudrant in the Class B girls competition, scoring 157 points. ESA’s Samantha Withers was second overall to Choudrant’s Marissa Bennett. Withers recorded a 21:33.14, 31 seconds off the winning pace.
“It was really cold, and I was just trying to keep pace with her (Bennett),” Withers said. “After the first mile or so, I figured I’d be second.”
Ascension Episcopal also had a second-place finisher in Kristen Landry in the 1A girls race, Landry, who recorded a time of 19:55.84, 40 seconds behind individual champion Stephanie Breaux of Ascension Catholic.
Lafayette Christian’s Tyler Granger also made his mark by placing 15th in the 1A boys race.