St. Joseph’s Academy Invitational cross country meet expects huge field

SJA Invitational expecting nearly 1,700 runners

After Mark LaHaye got the final entries tally for the St. Joseph’s Academy Invitational cross country meet, the universal response amounted to one word. “Wow.”

The annual meet set for Saturday morning at Highland Road Park has 1,695 entrants and more than 100 high schools and junior high schools entered.

“I expected it to be big, but this is even bigger than I expected,” said LaHaye, SJA’s first-year coach. “We’re getting everything set up today. I’ve been going around to some of the other schools in the area to borrow bibs (with entry numbers) to make sure you have enough.”

Races begin at 8:30 a.m. with a two-mile girls junior high race, followed by the two-mile boys junior high race at 9 a.m.

The three-mile girls varsity at 9:30 a.m. and three-mile boys varsity race at 10 a.m. are next. A open/junior varsity race that doesn’t require registration concludes the action at 10:30 a.m.

A total of 927 runners are entered in the junior high races, including 500 boys. A total of 52 teams and 325 runners have entered the girls varsity race, while 57 teams and 443 runners scheduled to compete in the boys varsity race.

Once the total of about 300 open/junior varsity runners is factored in, the meet should feature close to 2,000 runners.

“We’re concerned about the weather and (Tropical Storm Karen) that’s out there,” LaHaye said. “We hope we can get it in without any weather problems. We have most of the top teams and individuals coming, and expect a great meet.”

The top girls teams entered include the host Redstickers along with Mandeville, Dominican, Catholic-Pointe Coupee and Mount Carmel. St. Paul’s and Catholic High top the list of boys teams, along with John Curtis, Brother Martin, Jesuit and Episcopal.

St. Joseph’s freshman Annie Hill is unbeaten this season and tops the list of girls runners to watch along with St. Michael’s Haley Gregoire, Newman’s Haley Johnson, Mandeville’s Olivia Murphy, Dominican’s Mia Meydrich, Patrick Taylor’s Celia Zaeringer, Vandebilt Catholic’s Alexa Breaux and Holden’s Clarissa Smith.

St. Paul’s Zachary Albright leads the boys field, along with Episcopal’s Bryan Stameu, St. Paul’s Eric Coston, Curtis’ Devyn Keith, Ascension Catholic’s Zach Capello, Catholic’s Jeffrey Kelley and U-High’s Hank Patrick.

CCSL meets

Two Capital City Swim League meets are set Saturday at the Crawfish Aquatics pool. The first starts at 8 a.m. and the other is for 11 a.m.

St. Joseph’s Academy helps lead the list of teams in the first meet. The Redstickers’ Katelyn Rodriguez (100- and 200-yard freestyles) and Caroline Beene (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke) each have two top entry marks. Brusly’s Nick Lee (100 butterfly, 100 freestyle) and Scotlandville’s Joseph Square (50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke) also have multiple top entry marks.

East Ascension’s Mason Hutchinson (200 IM, 500 freestyle) and Dunham’s Kirkland Mawae (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke) are boys with multiple top marks entered in the second meet. Parkview’s Jolee Liles (freestyle, 100 butterfly) and Dunham’s Olivia Huffman (200 IM, 100 backstroke) are the girls with two top marks each.