NATCHITOCHES — The St. Martin’s Episcopal boys cross country team keeps raising the competitive bar. The Saints pushed it higher with a third straight Class 1A title Monday.

In reality, there was no hurdle for the Saints’ other team. The St. Martin’s girls simply ran past the competition to pick up their LHSAA title at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Cross Country meet.

“Yes, it is something special,” St. Martin’s coach Warren Lind said. “The girls at our school haven’t won a state championship in any sport since the 1990s. It was nice that they could do it at the same time as the boys. They train together.

“(St. Martin’s girls) were second for two years in a row. They started scheming how to do this on the bus ride home last year. We had a freshman who stepped up and was our fastest runner again today and her two sisters who are seniors were there. We had a junior and even a seventh-grader … a good group.”

St. Martin’s sweep was one of the feel good stories on the first day of the two-day meet at Northwestern State. The meet concludes with competition for Class 5A to 3A starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The Saints’ story was punctuated by a performance mixed with some light-hearted fun. As they waited to take photos, the St. Martin’s girls asked Lind to recreate the scream and celebration leap he made in the stands when he realized they won. The coach obliged, taking off his cap and sunglasses to do it.

The St. Martin’s girls also informed their coach they started plotting how to win their title on the bus-ride home two years ago, not last year. There were parallels between the two title efforts.

Buoyed by a group of three juniors, St. Martin’s put four runners in the top 10 of the boys race and tallied 42 points to finish ahead of Cedar Creek (56) and Ascension Catholic (62).

Benjamin Bone was second with a three-mile time of 16 minutes, 7.49 seconds. Two other juniors, Samuel Kellum and Rico Coleman, were second and third. The Saints’ Bryce Monier was seventh.

The St. Martin’s girls also had four top-10 finishers and compiled 36 points to place ahead of Houma-based Convenant Christian at 64. Instead of three juniors, this Saints team was led by three sisters.

Freshman Isabella Bartholomew was second in 19:59.36. Senior twins Chloe (third) and Alexandra (sixth) Bartholomew were there along with No. 8 finisher Anabella Imbornone, the other Saints’ runner in the top 10.

Lind joked that having the younger sibling place higher might cause friction in the Bartholomew household, which made the older siblings laugh.

“It really has been a title that was three total years in the making,” Alexandra Bartholomew said. “We couldn’t do it without the support we get from our coaches and teammates. This is really like a family to me.”

Chloe Bartholomew added, “We really got out there and pushed each other today. The boys give us a lot of support and they push us in practice, which made this possible.”

Monier was pleased with the boys effort which he said boosts the level of the St. Martin's program.

“We did what we needed to do to get the win,” Monier said. “I think it (title) speaks to the program we have built. The team culture is such that every year we can get it back together to win.”

Race notes

Louise McGehee was third in the 2A girls competition with 110 points. Newman's Mikayla Ruhl placed third in the 2A girls race to provide another highlight. Covenant Christian seventh-grader Emma Bourg won the 1A girls race in 19:53.12.

Follow Robin Fambrough on Twitter, @FambroughAdv.