St. Paul’s, Dominican lead 5A pack heading into state cross country meet

Covington-based St. Paul’s and Dominican-New Orleans are expected to be two of the leaders in a very large pack of teams set to compete for state titles on Tuesday at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships.

The two 5A teams are unbeaten in regular season meets, have been the top-ranked squads all season and make up one of the intriguing storylines for Baton Rouge and New Orleans on the second day of the annual LHSAA meet at Northwestern State’s Walter Ledet Track Complex in Natchitoches.

Races begin at 11 a.m. for the competition that features girls and boys teams in Classes 3A, 4A and 5A.

“St. Paul’s has been head and shoulders above the rest of us all season long,” Catholic High coach Pete Boudreaux said. “What may be real interesting is the battle for second. You’ve got us, Jesuit, Brother Martin, Ruston and a few other teams who should be in there battling.”

Baton Rouge-based Catholic was the 5A champion a year ago, and St. Paul’s was third behind Brother Martin.

Zachary Albright and Kraemer Jackson, both top 10 finishers a year ago, help lead St. Paul’s, which dominated races in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Joseph St. Cyr leads Catholic and also was a top 10 finisher a year ago.

Dominican surged ahead of last year’s top regular season team, BR’s St. Joseph’s Academy, to win the 5A girls title in 2011. Mia Meydrich, a top 10 finisher a year ago, is back to help lead Dominican. SJA, ranked second all year, also hopes to make its move.

“You’d have to say Dominican is the favorite,” St. Joseph’s coach Sam Young said. “They’re undefeated and ranked No. 1. With that said, we like our chances. I thought we had a real breakthrough at the Metro Meet. We’ve got five girls who are capable of running under 20 minutes and that gives us some flexibility.”

Mary LaHaye, another top 10 finisher from a year ago, is back to help lead the balanced SJA squad.

Meanwhile, St. Michael the Archangel coach Neil Borel believes the 4A boys and girls races will be just as competitive.

Borel expects Lafayette’s St. Thomas More, Marrero’s Archbishop Shaw and Benton to be among the 4A boys teams to watch. Shaw won the title in 2011 and STM was the runner-up.

“Benton, from up north, is a bit of mystery because we haven’t seen them,” Borel said. “St. Thomas More and Shaw have both had exceptional seasons and we’ve competed with them. We feel confident in our ability to be right up there.”

Borel said Ryan White and Dominic Segura lead his boys squad with Haley Gregoire and Allie Stone pace the Warrior girls who will also be looking to contend with the likes of STM and defending champion Benton. St. Michael was the 4A girls runner-up a year ago. The SMHS boys placed third.

Thibodaux’s E.D. White Catholic swept both 3A titles a year ago and is again pegged to be one of the frontrunners. West Feliciana was the 3A boys runner-up, while Jewel Sumner was the girls runner-up.

Both of EDW coach Don Grabert’s teams put four runners in the top 10 at last year’s state meet.