As the temperatures rose Saturday morning, so did the level of the competition at the Catholic High Cross Country Invitational.
St. Paul’s Zachary Albright and St. Joseph’s Annie Hill continued their success stories by claiming individual titles. The meet that attracted about 1,300 runners to Highland Road Park offered anything but the same old storylines.
Covington-based St. Paul’s won the boys title, posting a low score of 43 points. The top-ranked Wolves put all of their scoring runners in the top 20, including three in the top six.
Host Catholic (99), John Curtis (172), Episcopal (186) and Brother Martin (189) were next.
“I’m definitely blessed with a lot of talent,” St. Paul’s coach Terryl Chatham said with a smile. “They performed well. Thank God they’ve got a good bus driver.”
Holy Savior Menard pulled off an upset to claim the girls crown with 68 points. Top-ranked Mandeville (89), St. Joseph’s (119), Dominican (207) and Mt. Carmel (228) were the other top girls team.
Menard coach Wally Smith got emotional while explaining the Eagles’ effort.
“It’s history repeating itself,” Smith said. “Twenty years ago we went down to New Orleans and beat Mandeville when they were ranked No. 1. We told stories about that all week.”
Though Albright and Hill remained unbeaten, their three-mile races were anything but ordinary. Albright and Hahnville’s Bryce Robinson battled throughout the race. The duo covered the first mile in a torrid 4 minutes, 45 seconds.
Albright posted a winning time of 15:06.81, nipping Robinson (15:07.69) at the finish. St. Paul’s Eric Coston (15:24.12) and Robinson’s twin, Beau (15:40.44), completed the top four.
“At one point, we were on a 4:30 mile pace,” Albright said. “In a race like this you have to go with you’re presented with. I just hung in there with Bryce. He ran an awesome race. I told myself I’d try to get him at the end and I did.”
The girls race was billed as a showdown between Hill, an unbeaten freshman, and one Louisiana’s established distance stars, First Baptist Christian’s Gabrielle Jennings.
About a mile into the race St. Scholastica’s Carley Boyce, Mandeville’s Olivia Murphy and Dominican’s Mia Meydrich also were part of the leader group. Hill said Jennings was in front of her by about 20 yards with a half-mile to go, but dropped out of the race.
Hill had a winning time of 18:25.97. Boyce (18:40.97), Murphy (18:49.34) and Meydrich (19:04.09) followed.
“I just came out here to run,” Hill said. “I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. Going up the last hill with a half-mile to go was tough. (Jennings) just dropped off. I’m not sure what happened. I’m excited that we all got to run together. It was great competition.”
Mallory Robichaux (sixth) led Menard. Catholic-Pointe Coupee’s Addie Burleigh (ninth) was the only other Baton Rouge competitor in the girls top 10. St. Thomas More’s Hannah Bourque (fifth), St. Thomas Aquinas’ Bobbi Amar (seventh), Mt. Carmel’s Isabella Hemb (eighth) and Vandebilt Catholic’s Alexa Breaux (10th) were other girls notables.
St. Paul’s Don Lipani (sixth) and John Curtis’ Devyn Keith (fifth) were other top New Orleans boys finishers. Baton Rouge High’s Leo Frilot (seventh) Catholic’s Jeffrey Kelley (eighth), Ascension Catholic’s Zach Capello (ninth) and Episcopal’s Bryan Stamey (10th) were other boys notables.