In what has become an era of specialization for many high school athletes, Brian Primeaux is a rare exception.

The Catholic High senior has a passion for competing in triathlons. Two weeks ago in Austin, Texas, he defeated a few professional competitors while posting a time of 2 hours and 3 minutes for a 1,500-meter swim, a 25-mile bike ride and 6.2-kilometer run.

Figuring out how to apply those skills to high school athletics could have been a challenge, particularly at a large school like Class 5A Catholic.

A collaborative effort between two coaches has Primeaux primed to play a pivotal role for the Bears in cross country and swimming.

“A lot of my buddies who compete in triathlons don’t have it as good as I do,” Primeaux said. “Their coaches aren’t as willing to work with them the way my coaches do.

“Being part of both teams is something I really enjoy. My parents have always encouraged all of us to compete in high school sports. I want to contribute any way I can.”

Catholic High cross country coach Pete Boudreaux and Bears swim coach Doug Logsdon caution those who want to dismiss Primeaux as a novelty.

Already this season Primeaux has a top 10 finish in cross country. Last weekend, he posted state-qualifying times and placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle in 2:00.27 and sixth in the 500 freestyle in 5:35.72 to help the Bears oust rival Jesuit-New Orleans at a swim meet in Mobile, Ala.

“I was a little disappointed in my time in the 500,” Primeaux said. “I think I can do better than that. Being able to contribute and score points was the biggest thing for me.”

Both Logsdon and Boudreaux praise Primeaux’s work ethic.

“Knowing that he (Primeaux) wanted to compete in cross country and swimming, I was prepared to change his events,” Logsdon said. “I suggested that he compete in the sprint events this year because it would make it easier to recover physically for cross country.

“But Brian said no. He’s got such a great work ethic. He told me he wanted to do the 200 and 500. Doing the 500 is tough anyway, and doing it along with cross country is even tougher, but he likes it.”

Because he competed for the swim team last weekend, Primeaux was missing from the Bears’ cross country lineup for Episcopal’s 33rd Table Run.

The week before, at St. Michael the Archangel’s Bayou Boogie Classic, Primeaux placed sixth in a field of more than 150 runners with a three-mile time of 16:16.

“Brian is just a special young man,” Boudreaux said. “He balances so many things and he doesn’t cut any corners. On the days he practices with us, I’ll try to reduce what he does and he won’t hear of it. He wants to do it all.

“Last year was the first year he ran for us and he didn’t know how to run a three-mile race. Like anything he does, he becomes a student of the sport and learns about it. That fact and his work ethic makes it possible for him to do everything he does.”

The key to Primeaux’s contributions is a balancing act. He practices with the Catholic cross country team on Mondays and Wednesdays, spending Tuesdays and Thursdays with the swim team.

His older brothers, Mark and Philip, both competed in cross country at Catholic. Philip Primeaux was the state’s top cross country runner twice. Mark Primeaux helped introduce Brian to triathlons.

Also a talented musician, Primeaux plays the drums and is president of the Catholic High choir. He also carries a 3.7 grade-point average.

“I like music and being involved in something other than sports, too,” Primeaux said. “That helps balance things for me along with the sports I do.”

While balancing sports and other activities is a job in and of itself, Primeaux has goals he wants to accomplish as he tries to help both Catholic teams.

“In swimming, I want to get as close as I can to five minutes in the 500 free,” Primeaux said. “I really feel like I can do that. In cross country, I want to get my time under 16 minutes and maybe in the 15:30 range.

“The main thing I want to do is help both teams be as successful as possible. We’re off to a good start so far.”

Cross country polls

St. Joseph’s Academy and Catholic help top the list of local teams included in the first statewide cross country polls from the Louisiana Track and Field Coaches Association.

SJA got all 10 first-place votes and is rated No. 1 in the girls poll for schools in all classifications. Hammond-based St. Thomas Aquinas (fourth), St. Michael the Archangel (sixth) and Episcopal (10th) also are in the girls top 10.

Covington-based St. Paul’s got all 10 first-place votes in the boys poll for all classifications. Catholic (second), Episcopal (third), St. Thomas Aquinas (fourth) and Walker (eighth) are also part of the boys top 10.