When opportunity knocked, Catholic High’s Jeffrey Kelley had just the right way to answer.
Kelley won the individual title and led the host Bears to a runner-up finish at Catholic High Invitational on Saturday.
It was a signature moment for the senior, who won the three-mile boys race 15 minutes, 2.66 seconds on Saturday at Highland Road Park.
“This is something I definitely hoped for,” Kelley said of the victory. “I’m the most pleased with the fact that I ran a good race. But winning is nice. I’ll take it.”
Assumption’s Jacob Daigle finished second in 15:04.94, while Baton Rouge High’s Ryan Burrell and Brother Martin’s Hayden Courrege’ were the other top finishers.
Brother Martin won the boys division with a low score of 98 points, just ahead of Catholic (101) and Episcopal (104).
An excited Kelley went over to check on Burrell, who was sprawled on the ground briefly just past the finish line. Both smiled and talked about personal bests they had run.
Though he didn’t crack the 15-minute barrier, the adrenaline was still flowing for Kelley, who went down the finish-line shoot exchanging high-fives with runners from a number of teams.
Class 5A girls powers St. Joseph’s Academy and Mandeville went toe-to-toe for the third time this season in the girls division. SJA won for the second straight week with 52 points. Mandeville had 96. Bossier City-based Parkway (102) was third, thanks in part to individual champion Sara Funderburk, who won the three-mile girls race in 17:41.50.
No one expected the Catholic meet to be like the St. Joseph’s meet held the previous Saturday at Highland. St. Paul’s won the boys division at the SJA meet and did not compete this time. Neither did the top two boys finishers from a week earlier, John Curtis’ Devyn Keith and St. Paul’s Eric Coston.
The top girls individual, Mandeville’s Claire Crosby, was sidelined by illness. Instead of record-setting individual times, the Catholic meet was about impressive balance. The top 15 girls finished under 19 minutes, a feat 11 nine girls accomplished the week before.
“I’m real excited about it because we ran faster than we did last week,” St. Joseph’s coach Mark LaHaye said. “It was kind of a surprise because historically we don’t do well the week after our meet. And we ran fast.”
No one in the girls race was faster than Funderburk, whose team ran in the Catholic meet for the second straight season.
“I really like this course,” Funderburk said. “It was nice to run a course with so many hills like this. And it was also good to run with some of my best friends.”
Murphy was second in 17:44.81. Annie Hill placed third to lead SJA and ran a personal best of 17:59.98. The trio talked about texting before and then running in the race.
“With Claire out, I knew somebody had to pick it up,” Murphy said. “I decided I had to do that for the team.”
Hill smiled as she talked about her personal best, “That was my best race so far. I relaxed and ran my race.”
Catholic’s David Toups (sixth) and Thomas Kelton of Denham Springs (seventh) were the other top local boys finishers. Episcopal’s Alicia Stamey (fourth), SJA’s Gabby Chauvin (seventh) and Jennifer Bennett (10th) were other top local girls.
As he presented the team and individual awards, Catholic coach Pete Boudreaux told those on hand to note how close the boys team race was.
“I don’t think any of us (coaches) had a clue it was that close,” Boudreaux said. “That makes it fun. I thought Jeffrey ran a smart race. Shoot, it was another good meet with some fast times.”