It was a mix of the old and the new as St. Michael the Archangel’s Bayou Boogie Invitational kicked off another high school cross country season on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
As the annual meet held at Highland Road Park lifted the curtain on the 2015 season, two familiar faces, John Curtis’ Devyn Keith and St. Joseph’s Academy’s Annie Hill again took on the lead roles and also repeated as Bayou Boogie Invitational winners.
Hill started her junior season by winning the three-mile girls race in 18 minutes, 58.88 seconds. The Redstickers had five of the first six finishers, just missing a perfect score to easily win the girls division. There were six SJA runners in the top 10.
Rising humidity did not deter Keith, a senior who posted a three-mile time of 15:02.03 to claim the boys individual title while helping the Patriots finish as the boys runner-up to Catholic High.
“I’m glad to have the first race out of the way and I’m going to keep working hard to get my times down,” Hill said. “Hitting my splits on the second and third miles and staying on pace was all I tried to do.
“It’s big for us to start the season like this. It’s a little boost for our moral as we get ready to face more competition as the season goes on.”
Much like Hill, Keith sees the meet as a stepping stone to future competitions. After finishing their three-mile race, Keith and the other Curtis runners squeezed in another workout at Highland before the awards ceremony.
“I still think we have a lot to do before we’re ready for state,” Keith said, referencing the Patriots’ move up to 5A this fall. “I think we’re going to keep grinding by with our workouts to get ready. It was race … another race.
“We had a hard work week last week and I’ve been feeling kind of sluggish lately. But I’m glad we got another workout in along with the race.”
Neither runner faced a serious challenge. Hill finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Claire Vaughn (19:20.69) of Alexandria’s Holy Savior Menard. Teammates Gabbi Chauvin, Lauren Hendry, Jennifer Bennett and Natalie Aguillard were third through sixth to help St. Joseph’s tally the low score of 19 points. Four points separated the next three teams with Menard taking second with 91 points, just ahead of Fontainebleau (93) and host St. Michael (95).
“We’ve got a pretty young team, so we’re pleasantly surprised,” SJA coach Mark LaHaye said. “In our top seven, we have two freshmen and three sophomores. This was a good a little gauge for us.”
Keith finished nearly 28 seconds ahead of runner-up Jacob Daigle (15.30.00) of Assumption. Jeffrey Kelley’s placed third in his return from an illness to lead Catholic. The Bears tallied with 46 points to finish ahead of Curtis (78) and Episcopal. David Toups (sixth) also finished in the top 10 for Catholic.
“I said earlier you never know what’s going to happen in the first meet,” Catholic coach Pete Boudreaux said. “We got to enter 12 guys, which was good because if we had to choose a top seven right now it would be really tough. It was a solid effort. (Keith) was really impressive.”