The St. Paul’s boys and the Mandeville girls clinched titles in the District 6-5A Cross Country Championships on Wednesday afternoon at Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville.
St. Paul’s, the defending Class 5A state champion, scored 29 points to easily win the boys district title. Mandeville’s girls, fourth in last year’s Class 5A state meet, were even more impressive; placing their top five runners in the top 10 and totaling 19 points.
Eric Coston, the 2013 state individual champ as a freshman, returned from a month-long injury to his left tibia and showed no sign of rust. Coston pushed to an early lead and finished with a three-mile time of 15 minutes, 26 seconds on a course that is not known for producing especially fast times.
Wednesday was a bit different, however, with overcast skies, a crisp breeze and afternoon temperatures that hovered in the mid-70s — all ideal for racing.
“Today just felt great,” Coston said. “It was great to get back out. I tell you, after some of the races earlier this year, I could hardly walk. I went to the doctor and there was a lot of stress in the bone, but I caught it before there was an actual stress fracture. (If not) that would have had me out for the season. So I’m just happy to be back.”
Coston said he thinks he can go significantly lower than the 15:26 he ran at Fontainebleau on Wednesday. He’ll have that chance when he runs in the Metro Championships on Saturday at City Park, and when he defends his title at state in two weeks.
“I’m feeling much better now,” he said.
Teammate Spencer Albright finished second in 15:57, and Mandeville’s Spencer Hollander placed third in 16:03.
The Fontainebleau boys team finished second with 67 points, and Mandeville was third with 79.
The Mandeville girls also have had to deal with injury setbacks this season, but that didn’t stop them from grabbing the overall win. Sophomore Ally McCulley led the girls field with a time of 18:34 over three miles. Mandeville teammate Kylie Touchard placed second in 18:39 and Fontainebleau’s Alivia Johnson was third in 18:51.
The Skippers also had Chelsey Jones place fourth (19:10) and Olivia Murphy fifth (19:40) to round out the top-five individual runners.
It was McCulley’s first individual win of the season.
“This feels good,” she said. “I’ve pushed all season long, so to be here now feels great. I think we can do well at state again.”
Fontainebleau placed second in the girls team scoring and Slidell narrowly edged Ponchatoula for third.