Catholic-PC girls trying to use third place at 2011 state meet as springboard
“Addie will get up in the morning and go run before school. Then she practices in the afternoon. Not many kids want to do that.” Jason Chauvin, Catholic-Pointe Coupee coach
Finishing third in Class 1A at last year’s Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Cross Country Meet was a mixed blessing for Catholic High-Pointe Coupee.
The finish established New Roads-based CHSPC as an up-and-coming girls team. Knowing where the team could have finished is what inspires the Catholic-PC squad now, said coach Jason Chauvin.
“It was kind of bittersweet,” Chauvin said. “I know it left a bitter taste in the mouths of some of the girls.
“On one hand, it was great to finish third. But on the other, they could see that we could have finished on the podium (in the top two). That’s what has made them work so hard.”
The Hornets showed how far motivation and a summer of focused training can bring a nine-member squad last weekend. Led by runner-up Addie Burleigh, CHSPC placed fifth at Episcopal’s Round Table Run on Saturday at BREC’s Highland Road Park.
The Hornets, who finished with 159 points, were the top 1A team and finished just eight points behind meet host, Class 2A Episcopal. CHSPC is the only 1A team included in the Louisiana Track and Field Coaches Association’s composite-all classes poll with a No. 10 ranking.
“We felt like we had a good meet and ran some good times, especially for Highland,” Chauvin said. “The goal now is continue to improve. And we have a couple of girls who need to get healthy, and we need to stay healthy. With nine runners, you have to be careful because depth can be an issue.”
Burleigh, a junior, is the undisputed Hornets leader. First Baptist Christian-Slidell’s Gabrielle Jennings won the girls three-mile varsity race as expected with a time of 18 minutes, 57 seconds as expected. Burleigh finished in 19:32, 15 seconds better than the No. 3 finisher.
Chauvin said Burleigh’s time was nearly a minute better than her previous best at Highland posted late last season. The time is also significantly better than the 20:13 she ran at last year’s state meet in Natchitoches.
“The thing about Addie is this: She loves to run,” Chauvin said. “I saw that when I came here four years ago, and it’s as true now as it was when she was in the eighth grade.
“Addie will get up in the morning and go run before school. Then she practices in the afternoon. Not many kids want to do that.”
The rest of the CHSPC squad is diverse. Kristen Olinde, a seventh-grader, and senior Meredith Witty both placed in the top 30 last weekend. Freshman Olivia Fulmer and junior Katie Gummow completed the five-runner scoring for the Hornets.
Freshman Madeline Olinde, eighth-grader Julia Smith, sophomore Katie LaCour and senior Erin Jewell complete the squad.
After finishing 19 points behind 1A champion Metairie Park Country Day and two points behind runner-up Christian Life at last year’s state meet, Chauvin said the Hornets were eager to begin offseason training after the track season ended in May.
In addition to training in and around New Roads, Chauvin said a key point was a summer camp team members attended in the Covington area. Burleigh in particular made significant strides, Chauvin said.
“You had some of the top teams out of the New Orleans area there like Dominican and Mount Carmel,” Chauvin said. “Every day, I got texts from the girls telling me how they were doing and that Addie was running with the No. 1 group.
“They all really learned a lot and got a lot out of that camp. Plus, by the end of the summer we had a great training base.”
Some local and area teams drive to Highland to practice at least once a week. The Hornets stay closer to home.
Chauvin has his boys and girls teams run in and around the New Roads area two days a week. They do hill work once a week on the golf course at a nearby country club and speed work once a week at a track located in a recreation area.
While last week’s results were impressive, Chauvin
reminds the Hornets that work for 2012 is not done. After
taking this weekend off, Catholic-PC will compete at the
first Battlefield Cross Country Festival set for Sept. 29 in Jackson.
“We know there are other very good 1A teams,” Chauvin said. “There’s Country Day to start with. I know Christian Life graduated two runners, but they’ve got an outstanding coach, and they’ll be in there.
“Ascension Catholic is another team that is up and coming. And St. Edmund is a team from our district that is good. Last weekend was good, but it’s just a one week of our season.”