Zachary cross-country runner John Paul Hardin finished in 16th place in the Catholic High School Invitational, leading the Broncos to 20th place in the overall team standings with 539 points Saturday at Highland Road Park in Baton Rouge. The CHS meet is one of the largest in the state each year, with more than 1,400 runners on 36 girls and 41 boys teams.

Hardin’s time was 16:28.56, a bit off his season best.

“JP had a tough day out there,” said his father, Hunter Hardin. “He had a big training week, and the warm temperature took its toll on him. … He should be on track for a good day at Metro.”

Hardin, a sophomore, has been a consistent top 10 finisher this year, with a seventh-place finish at the John Curtis Season Opener, seventh place at the Episcopal Round Table Run and ninth place at the St. Joseph’s Invitational.

Hunter Hardin credits coach Andy Carlisle’s approach to cross-country training for his son’s surge into the upper echelon of the Baton Rouge metro prep running scene.

“Coach Carlisle’s brought a scientific method for training for the team, and it’s really helped John Paul,” Hunter Hardin said. “There’s no way JP could be doing what he’s doing without a coach that’s energized him. He tells them they all can do this, and if they put in the training, they’ll see dramatic improvement.”

John Paul Hardin said he runs 30 to 40 miles per week, and part of his training involves running time trials to establish goals based on percentages of that pace.

“Everybody has their own pace, and it helps to concentrate on a goal to go for,” Hardin said.

He said another reason why he’s having such a good cross-country season is that he logged a lot of miles over the summer so he was in good shape when the season began.

This week, Zachary will run in the Walker High School Shootout. After that, it’s the Metro Championships on Nov. 10 followed by the state championship on Nov. 18 in Natchitoches at Northwestern State University. The upcoming competition will help the team turn it up a notch.

“I like the competition,” said Hardin, who is ranked third in his class academically. “I think the competitiveness makes us turn in good times and have good workouts.”

Broncos win, to host Central

The Class 5A Zachary Broncos raced out to a 50-14 halftime lead en route to a 64-28 victory over Plaquemine (5-1), the fifth-ranked Class 4A team, in a nondistrict homecoming game at ZHS’ Bronco Stadium.

Quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. and receiver-return specialist Douglas Coleman set the tone for the Broncos. Scott threw for 269 first-half yards and finished 12-of-17 for 383 with four touchdowns. He also ran for 69 yards, one less than Terry Sullivan, who finished with 70 yards on 14 carries with two TDs. Coleman returned a punt 59 yards for a TD and also caught three passes for 135 yards and two TDs.

Zachary improved to 5-1 overall and will put its 2-0 record in District 4-5A on the line this week at home against Central (2-4, 0-2).

Special ZAF tailgate planned

Zachary Athletic Director Jesse Cassard reminds fans: “We will recognize the platinum-level corporate sponsors at halftime of the Central game. Also, all corporate sponsors are invited to a tailgate upstairs in the athletic center at 6 p.m. Todd Hernandez is providing the food for the Zachary Athletic Foundation and Century Club tailgaters for the Central game.”

Northeast to face Capitol

The unbeaten Northeast Vikings enjoyed an open date last week and will face Capitol on Friday night at Memorial Stadium in a District 6-2A contest.

Coach Dave Masterson’s Vikings have outscored their opponents 102-29 this season and have beaten teams in all five classifications.

Northeast is 5-0 overall and 1-0 in District 6-2A while Capitol is 2-4 overall, 1-0 in district.

Zachary swimmers shine

Coach Lisa McGehee’s Zachary swimmers posted a strong showing at their Capital City Swim League regular-season final meet at the Crawfish Aquatics pool. The Bronco boys captured first place out of six teams in the boys division with 427 points, ahead of Episcopal (334) and Denham Springs (285). The Zachary girls’ 368 points were good for second place out of five teams, behind Episcopal (564).

Luke Troth was a double winner in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.

Other swimmers with top five finishes in their races were Collin Dupuy, Garrett Rushing, Schlyer Mire, Hannah Partin, Ashley Marler, Clay Franklin, Phillip Howell, Michael Sanford, Ellen Manuel, Kelsey Olson, Stephen Samuel, Alex Yoes, Mary Ellen McCrary and Austin Wittig.

Also, the boys 200-medley relay and the 200-freestyle relay finished first and the boys 400-free relay tied for first.

Next up for the ZHS swimmers is the CCSL City Championship on Nov. 1-2.

ZHS wins volleyball matches

The Zachary volleyball team improved to 11-9 overall and 4-1 in Division I, District 2, winning two matches last week. ZHS beat McKinley 25-15, 25-12, 25-21 and Scotlandville 25-12, 25-12, 25-11.

This week, the Lady Broncos played at Woodlawn on Monday and hosted Baton Rouge High on Wednesday.

Northeast drops 3 matches

The Lady Vikings volleyball team dropped to 2-14 for the season and 1-4 in District 2, Division IV. They were defeated by Southern Lab, 25-17, 25-12, 25-16; lost to University High 25-8, 25-8, 25-7; and fell to Port Allen 25-21, 25-19, 25-21.

This week, Northeast played at University High and Episcopal.

Howard Arceneaux covers sports for The Advocate Extra and can be reached at harceneaux@theadvocate.com.