NATCHITOCHES — It was a tale of top-ranked teams who were expected to win Class 5A state titles to close the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships.
Two storylines emerged as New Orleans-based Dominican claimed its second straight state girls title, and Covington’s St. Paul’s took second in the boys competition as the annual meet concluded at Northwestern State’s Walter Ledet Track Complex on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is so awesome; I’m so happy for the girls. … They deserve it,” Dominican coach Ashlyn Ciolino said. “They’ve been training so long and so hard for this. They’ve earned it.
“They won every meet this year, and we told them to go out and do what they’ve done every single week, and that’s what they did.”
St. Paul’s was not the only Metro New Orleans team to post a runner-up finish. Fontainebleau (5A girls) and Archbishop Shaw (4A boys) were runner-up finishers.
Jesuit’s Neal Fitzpatrick and Fontainebleau’s Alexa Durham claimed individual titles in the 5A races.
Dominican put two runners in the top 10 and finished with the low score of 57 points, ahead of Fontainebleau (96) and Bossier City-based Parkway (97).
Another New Orleans school, Mount Carmel Academy, was fourth at 144.
The operative number for Durham was three. The FHS senior won the 5A girls title for the third time, posting the best three-mile time of the two-day meet by winning in 17 minutes, 54.25 seconds.
“This is my last cross country race in high school, and I had to give it everything I possibly had,” Durham said. “I wanted to run and drop time on every mile.
“The wind was a little tough. When you made the turns, it was pushing you back, but you have to fight through those things.”
Mia Meydrich was third in 18:27.52 to pace Dominican. Lisa Sakamoto (fifth, 18:37.93) was also in the top 10. Ellen Barkemeyer (11th, 18:57.93), Grace Williams (15th, 19:19.09) and Claire Fox (26th, 19:43.79) also scored for the winners. A top 10 finisher who was not part of a team boosted the scoring totals by one point for three of the Dominican runners.
Other top 10 finishers with New Orleans ties were Mandeville’s Olivia Murphy (fourth, 18:36.43), Mount Carmel Academy’s Isabella Hemb (seventh, 18:42.42) and St. Scholastica’s Carley Boyce (eighth, 18:43.92).
Like Durham, Jesuit’s Fitzpatrick ran the fastest winning time for the two-day meet, winning in 14:54.41. Fitzpatrick was the runner-up a year ago and the third-place finisher as a sophomore in 2010. He also set a school record by a margin of one second.
“I knew I wanted to not go slow, but conserve energy the first mile,” Fitzpatrick said. “The second, I started to push it as hard as I could because I wanted to get the school record, too.”
West Monroe put three runners in the top 10 to claim the 5A boys title with 60 points. Logan Pearce, who was second in 15:04.52, led the Rebels. St. Paul’s finished with (74) and Jesuit (126) was third.
“We just got beat by a better team today,” St. Paul’s coach Terryl Chatham said. “I think we knew going in, West Monroe was the team we had to look out for. They put their three in front of our three and ran the race we wanted to run. But we also ran the best race.”
Zachary Albright (third, 15:19.43) and Kraemer Jackson (seventh, 15:34.29) were top finishers for St. Paul’s. Hahnville also placed two runners in the top 10 in Beau Robinson (eighth, 15:38.10) and Bryce Robinson (ninth, 15:39.15).
Kyle Soulant finished second in the 4A boys race in 16:16.23 to pace Shaw, which placed second to Benton in the team competition. Benton had three runners in the top 10 and tallied 57 points, with Shaw (70) and Lafayette’s St. Thomas More (98) taking third over Baton Rouge’s St. Michael the Archangel (98) based on a tie-breaker.
Northwood-Shreveport’s Oliver Dylan won the 4A race in 16:08.25. Reggie Williams (eighth, 16:49.45) was also in the top 10 for Shaw. Holy Cross’ Andrew Gathman (16:50.69) placed 10th.
No New Orleans team placed in the 4A girls top three. Cabrini’s Janie Golden (seventh, 20:27.29) was a top 10 finisher.
St. Charles Catholic’s Pierre McGraw (sixth, 17:04.26) was a top 10 finisher in the 3A boys race.