WALKER — John Curtis and Devyn Keith again played lead roles, only this time at the Varsity Sports/Walker Shootout cross country meet held Saturday. So did Gabrielle Jennings of First Baptist.
Warmer temperatures kept most runners from setting personal bests on the flat Hutchinson Park surface. Some were disappointed. Mandeville coach Gerald Singer was one happy exception.
Score another one for Singer’s Skippers in their season-long 5A battle against St. Joseph’s Academy.
“We ran a lot better than last week,” Singer said. “We did a better job running as a team today. We were much closer as a pack. We’ve still got some people out and (St. Joseph’s) had Annie (Hill, SJA’s top runner) only doing two miles and were missing another girl. It been a great competition with two good schools who give 100 percent every time out.”
Mandeville won the Class 5A/4A girls division with the low score of 42 points, ahead of second-place SJA (85) and Mount Carmel (127). The victory comes two weeks after the Skippers edged St. Joseph’s to win the St. Joseph’s Invitational at Highland Road Park. Last week, the Redstickers edged Mandeville to win the Catholic High Invitational also held at Highland.
The constants were Curtis, Keith and Jennings who all posted wins a week ago at Highland. Class 3A Curtis moved up to the 5A/4A boys division.
The Patriots won with 71 points, ahead of Jesuit (81) and Catholic High (90).
“I think we ran pretty well,” Curtis coach Chaz Caiado said. “It was warmer than we expected. Cross country is about being able to deal with adversity. So while we had a couple of guys who didn’t get the times they wanted, but others stepped up and improved their times.”
With St. Paul’s standout Eric Coston sidelined by a minor injury, Keith found himself way out in front of the pack and won with a three-mile time of 15 minutes, 0.59 seconds, less than a second off his winning time on the hill-laden Highland course.
“I wanted a 4:40 for the first mile and I was at a 4:50,” Keith said. “It wasn’t what I was hoping for. This is just more experience to put under my belt, and it’s going to help later on.”
St. Paul’s Spencer Albright (sixth), Curtis’ Zachary Barthel (seventh), Northshore’s John Neal (ninth) and Shaw’s Bryant White were other New Orleans notables.
Jennings of Class C First Baptist opted to run up to 5A/4A and won in 17:54.49. That time was about 30 seconds off the course record she set a couple of years ago.
“Right from when we started, I knew I was going slower,” Jennings said. “I tried to pick it up, but I think the fact that it was hotter made a difference.”
Ally McCulley was second in 18:40.78 to pace MHS. Mount Carmel’s Isabella Hemb took third in 18:41.87. Mandeville placed Chelsey Jones (fifth) in the top 10.
Fontainebleau’s Alivia Johnson (sixth), St. Scholastica’s Ellen Feringa (seventh) and Newman’s Haley Johnson (eighth) were other top finishers.
Baton Rouge-based Episcopal (girls) and St. Thomas Aquinas (boys) of the Ruston area were the 3A and below team champions. Episcopal finished with 56 points, ahead of Sacred Heart (71) and St. Thomas Aquinas (79).
Episcopal placed three runners in the top five, including individual champion Hayley Schwab (18:52.81). Middle-schooler Madeline Kling was third in her first three-mile race of the season for Sacred Heart. Choudant’s Nathan Anderson won the boys race in 16:25.06.