St. Paul’s cross country team emphasizing consistency _lowres

Advocate file photo by John Oubre St. Paul's cross country runner Eric Coston

St. Paul’s Eric Coston has broken the 15-minute mark before in 3-mile races. But Saturday in the Christian Brothers Invitational, the junior cross country runner outdid himself.

Coston, a state champion as a freshman two years ago in the Division I meet, set a personal best time of 14 minutes, 48.4 seconds in the race his team hosted at Money Hill near Abita Springs. The time was more than a half minute better than his nearest competitor, which had even the mild-mannered Coston marveling at the showing.

“This was a good one,” Coston said. “This is our home meet. ... I felt really good today. ... I knew if I ran really fast at the beginning, I could carry it.”

Coston’s first mile came at 4:50 and then he went right around 4:50 again in the second mile. He edged just under 5:00 in the final mile. I just want to get faster.”

St. Paul’s won the boys competition, which featured 17 teams. The Wolves scored 45 points to beat Brother Martin (67) and Mandeville (128). Fontainebleau’s Adam Wise placed second in the individual scoring with a time of 15:24. Brother Martin’s Hayden Courrege was third at 15:35.

Wise set a personal best Saturday, though temperatures climbed into the high-70s by the start of the race at 8:30 a.m.

“It was my best time by about 30 seconds,” Wise said. “This definitely boosted my confidence. It will help me in future races.”

Mandeville cruised to the girls title with all five of its top runners finishing in the top 12. Claire Crosby, who has been running as well as any local girl this year, took the Christian Brothers title with a time of 18:09.5.

Teammate Olivia Murphy placed second with a time of 18:31.5. Isabella Hemb of Mount Carmel was third at 18:52.4.

“I’m running more than I ever have,” said Crosby, a senior. “My sophomore and junior year, I kind of struggled with injuries, so I never could get into a good rhythm. This year, I think I’m finding it. I have a good foundation, and I want to build on it. I feel a lot stronger.”

St. Joseph’s placed second in the girls’ race with 42 points. Annie Hill led the Redstickers in fifth (18:58.) Dominican (110) Mt. Carmel (143) and St. Scholastica (187) rounded out the top five in the 16-team field.

Almost 1,200 runners took part in the meet which was held in rural north central St. Tammany Parish.

“We knew we would compete well, we just didn’t know how well,” Mandeville coach Gerald Singer said. “The girls stepped up especially. But there are a lot of big meets coming.”