When it comes to cross country, good things typically happen in bunches. But if you are the front-runner, it is best to stay ahead of the pack, something individual champions Isabelle Brown and Louden Boudreaux did Saturday at St. Michael's Bayou Boogie Invitational.

Hot and steamy conditions did not bother the individual winners or team champions Catholic High and St. Joseph's Academy during the season-opening races at Highland Road park.

The Bears and the Redstickers, defending boys and girls Class 5A state champions, each placed five runners among the top nine finishers while scoring 22 points.

Individually, Boudreaux, the Class 4A individual champion last season, won with a three-mile time of 15:35.8. Boudreaux was hoping to better a time of 15:33 that he ran on the course last year.

“I underestimated the course,” Boudreaux said. “I’ve raced it before,, but I guess I forgot how tough it was. It really got to me, but I pulled through.”

Catholic’s Owen Simon was second with a time of 15:49.1, and was followed by three Bears — Joseph Ellis, Luke Bella and Blake Cook — to round out the top five. Catholic’s John LeBlanc placed ninth to complete the Bears scoring.

Brown, the defending 5A individual champion, won the Boogie Invitational title for a second straight year. Brown bounced back from an upper respiratory infection earlier in the week to win in 18:39.4. The time fell short of the (18:15.4) she ran last year thanks to the heat and soft course.

“Our theme of the week has been patience,” Brown said. “We wanted to keep our pack together at least until the one mile (mark). That’s been our strategy at practice. As the season progresses, we want to close our one through five gaps.”

Virginia Dirks (third), Maddie Gardiner (fourth), Anna Eagleton (sixth) and Kate Ritchie (eighth) were other leaders for SJA.

Catholic High coach Pete Boudreaux was pleased his runners stayed so close together.

“It was a good race, especially being the first race of the season, and especially as hot as it is,” Boudreaux said. “The course isn’t as bad as its been, but it was still a little bit soft. I’m very pleased that our top seven or eight guys packed together pretty tight. That’s going to be our strength this season."

Also placing in the top 15 were Ben Langley (12th) and Zach Morgan (15th). Ellis for the Bears, Simon and Langley were among the top 14 finishers at last year’s state championship meet when Catholic won its second consecutive title.