The St. Joseph’s Academy cross country team kicked off the 2018 season with a dominating win in the 20th annual St. Michael Bayou Boogie Classic. The meet was held September 1 at BREC’s Highland Road Park.
The Redstickers scored 19 points in the varsity three-mile race. There were 11 complete teams and 112 finishers in the field. Rounding out the top four were Menard (58), St. Michael (93) and Episcopal School of Acadiana (131).
SJA’s top seven varsity finishers were junior Isabelle Brown, 1st place, 18:15; sophomore Sophie Martin, 3rd place, 18:56 (personal record); senior Lauren Hendry, 4th place, 19:17; junior Virginia Dirks, 5th place, 19:20; sophomore Anna Camille Eagleton, 6th place, 19:29; freshman Maddie Kate Gardiner, 7th place, 19:40 (personal record); and sophomore Kate Ritchie, 10th place, 19:56. Other early season personal records were set by freshman Lilly Leonard, 20:17; senior Olivia Devall, 20:37; freshman Olivia Hotstream, 21:52; freshman Reese Favaloro, 22:18; sophomore Kate Langley, 22:44; and freshman Alexis Napoli, 22:56.
“This was a phenomenal first meet for us,” said head coach Mark LaHaye. “Our girls crushed the course and the competition. In the varsity race, we had seven of the top 10 and 13 of the top 25 finishers. Plus, in the unscored JV race, we easily had the first five finishers to cross the line. I did a quick post-race comparison of this year’s results to last year’s results, and on average, our returning runners improved their first-race performance by 70 seconds. That’s really impressive.”
Brown said the Bayou Boogie set up the team for another great season. “Going in, I expected our team to do phenomenal, but coming out with a nearly perfect score of 19 this early in the year is crazy,” she said. “I am so proud to see that all of our summer training paid off and can’t wait to see what we will do in the weeks to come. I went into this race with a lot of excitement and with a plan to run even splits, which worked well for me. I look forward to meeting our team goals.”
Martin said a great deal of anticipation surrounded the race. “The whole team was excited because the weather was cool, and we were all ready to start off the season,” she said. “The team was super positive and encouraging. Everyone did amazing, and a lot of people ran faster than they were hoping. This race was a big improvement from our scrimmage last week for me. I felt really good and am super proud of my time and placement.”
Ritchie said the outcome of the season opener was an indication of how hard the team has worked over the summer. “We had a near perfect score of 19, and everyone ran so well,” she said. “I am so proud to see our team start the season off strong and cannot wait to see what else we are able to do. This weekend also had great running conditions, seeing that it was not too hot and the course was dried off. I cannot wait for this weekend to see what we’ll do next.”
Dirks said the team is happy with the results. “It was a great way to start the season, and we are all very excited for our upcoming meets,” she said.
Eagleton said the runners worked together and pushed one another with great success. “I am so proud of what the team accomplished Saturday,” she said. “We have been working hard all throughout the summer and in the last month of practice, and it has definitely paid off.”
Next up for the Redstickers is the Round Table Run, hosted by Episcopal High. The meet will be held September 8 at Highland Road Park, with the varsity race starting at 8:20 a.m.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Tina LaHaye