There were plenty of clouds and no storm in sight as runners prepared for the St. Joseph’s Invitational on Saturday morning.
The storm that took place on the Highland Road Park cross country course after the races began provided a different kind of lightning. There were personal bests and one confirmed meet record.
Seeing Mandeville’s Claire Crosby and Devyn Keith of John Curtis win eventual honors was not a shock, but the times the duo recorded were.
Keith won the three-mile boys race in a jaw-dropping 14 minutes, 30.72 seconds, setting a course record. Crosby won the girls race in an equally impressive 17:32.41 that ranks among the fastest girls times run at Highland. Host SJA and St. Paul’s were the team champions.
“It was a perfect storm (Saturday),” Episcopal boys coach Claney Duplechin said. “You had cooler temperatures, the course was dry and there wasn’t any sun, so the chance to run fast times was there.
“But I don’t recall ever having a meet where the top 25 boys all finished under 16 minutes and the top 10 girls were under 19:00.”
Under those circumstances, host SJA’s girls’ win could have been overlooked.
“We got our top four in the top 15 and six in the top 20,” St. Joseph’s coach Mark Lahaye said. “That was pretty incredible. Annie (Hill) and Gabbi (Chauvin) catching Mandeville’s No. 3 runner was big for us. Consider this, Annie ran a season best and everybody else ran personal bests. So I can’t imagine having a much better day than that. We’ve got to continue to improve and get better.”
The showdown between second-ranked SJA and top-ranked Mandeville was one of the focal points for the meet that featured 46 full boys teams and 31 full girls teams. St. Joseph’s had the low score of 52 points, ahead of Mandeville (73) and Mount Carmel (155). St. Michael finished fourth at 188.
St. Paul’s won the boys title with 72 points. John Curtis (91) and Brother Martin (109) followed. Episcopal was fourth at 149 to lead local boys teams.
“Those guys were all running (fast) today,” St. Paul’s coach Terryl Chatham said. “Somebody asked me if they changed the course and I told them, ‘No we changed the weather.’
“To see Devyn run what he ran and then see our guy (Eric Coston) run a 14:34 is incredible. That’s a school record. That was fun. We just want to keep working and getting better.”
Crosby, Olivia Murphy (third) and Ally McCulley (eighth) led Mandeville. Hill led SJA with a fifth place. Gabbi Chauvin ran 30 seconds faster than her previous three-mile best to place sixth. Lauren Hendry (11th) and Jennifer Bennett (13th) also helped SJA’s cause.
Episcopal’s Alicia Stamey was the girls runner-up in 17:49.28. Ascension Catholic’s Sophie Daigle (fourth) and Dutchtown’s Tara Stuntz (10th) were other area leaders.
Catholic’s Jeffrey Kelley ran with Keith and Coston early in the race. Jacob Daigle of Assumption passed Kelley just before the finish line and recorded a 15:01.72 time as both runners just missed cracking the 15-minute barrier.
Ryan Burrell of Baton Rouge High (seventh), Denham Springs’ Thomas Kelton (ninth) and John Paul Hardin of Zachary (10th) were other top local boys finishers. Kris Jackson was 17th for Episcopal.