Just four days after winning the state championship, the St. Joseph’s Academy cross country team finished 10th in the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals South Regional at Bear Branch Park in The Woodlands, Texas. The meet, held November 17, is one of eight regional qualifiers sponsored by Nike Cross across the country. SJA competed against top teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. This year’s regional featured the largest number of entries in race history.
The top three teams, all from Texas, were Flower Mound (87 points); Prosper (104 points) and Southlake Carroll (155 points).
In addition to competing in the seeded Girls Championship Race, which featured 23 teams and 190 runners, SJA fielded teams of seven runners each in the Girls Open and the Girls Rising Stars races. This year marked the first time SJA entered teams in three separate races.
SJA’s seven runners in the girls seeded race were senior Lauren Hendry, 47th place, 20:03.8; sophomore Sophie Martin, 65th place, 20:18.5; junior Isabelle Brown, 75th place, 20:26.5; junior Virginia Dirks, 99th place, 20:45.4; sophomore Anna Camille Eagleton, 102nd place, 20:47.6; freshman Maddie Gardiner, 115th place, 21:06.6; and sophomore Lydia Poche, 132nd place, 21:23.1.
In the Girls Open race, with 62 teams and 577 runners, SJA finished 13th. Order of finish and times were are follows: senior Angelle Martin, 63rd place, 20:59.0; senior Taylor Winters, 82nd place, 21:17.3; senior Olivia Devall, 129th place, 21:40.9; junior Mary Claire Saia, 142nd place, 21:49.8; sophomore Brynn Duggan, 194th place, 22:18.3; senior Leanne Livingston, 202nd place, 22:28.1; and sophomore Macy Howard, 211th place, 22:34.8.
In the Girls Rising Stars race, open to freshmen and sophomores, SJA finished third out of 13 teams and 130 runners. Order of finish and times were as follows: sophomore Kate Ritchie, 5th place, 20:18.6; freshman Lilly Leonard, 10th place, 20:37.3; freshman Elise Jones, 18th place, 20:56.0; freshman Ava Lemoine, 28th place, 21:16.0; freshman Katie Calegan, 50th place, 21:54.0; freshman Reese Favaloro, 57th place, 22:15.2; and Olivia Hotstream, 59th place, 22:16.0.
“This was our fourth time competing in this meet, and it was another valuable experience for our team,” said head coach Mark LaHaye. “Once again, we were the highest-placing non-Texas team in the Girls Championship race. Our pre-season goal this year was a top five finish in this meet, which we unfortunately missed by 84 points. But considering we were competing only four days after an extremely tough state championship meet and how close we came to actually achieving a sixth-place finish, I think we have nothing to hang our heads about. In addition, our Girls Rising Stars team missed a second-place finish by only two points. And our Girls Open team defeated the B teams of second-place Prosper, fourth-place Coppell, fifth-place Cedar Park and sixth-place Hebron. These are just a few of the top 5A and 6A Texas state champions that we competed against.”
The SJA cross country team ends the 2018 season as the 36th ranked team in the country in the three-mile distance by MileSplit USA.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Tina LaHaye