The St. Joseph’s Academy cross country team, winner of the last three Class 5A state championships, kicked off the 2019 season with a big win in the 21st annual St. Michael Bayou Boogie Classic. The meet was held September 7 at BREC’s Highland Road Park.
Placing five runners in the top nine finishers, the Redstickers scored 22 points in the varsity three-mile race. Fourteen teams competed for the title under hot and humid conditions. Rounding out the top five were Mandeville (70 points), St. Michael (114), St. Scholastica (131) and Episcopal School of Acadiana (156).
SJA’s top seven varsity finishers were senior Isabelle Brown, 1st place for the second year in a row, 18:39.4; senior Virginia Dirks, 3rd place, 19.08.0; sophomore Maddie Kate Gardiner, 4th place, 19:21.6; junior Anna Camille Eagleton, 6th place, 19:54.0; junior Kate Ritchie, 8th place, 20:09.6; senior Mary Claire Saia, 11th place, 20:14.6; and freshman Emma Claire Hendry, 13th place, 20:33.9 (personal record).
“This was a great first meet for us,” said head coach Mark LaHaye. “While the course was still a bit soft and sloppy in some areas due to all of the recent rain days, our team bounced back from last week’s muddy scrimmage in true SJA XC form. We dominated the course and the competition. In the varsity race, we finished 1-3-4-6-8-11-13-14-16-20-24. That’s five of the top 10 and 11 of the top 25 finishers. Plus, in the unscored JV race, we easily had the first three or four finishers to cross the line. We really had an impressive start to the season.”
Dirks said the victory was a great way to defend the team’s state championship. “After two weeks of rain, the course had finally dried up enough to race on,” she said. “We had multiple girls in the top 15 and are very excited to see where the rest of the season takes us.”
Next up for the Redstickers is the Round Table Run, hosted by Episcopal High. The meet will be held September 14 at Highland Road Park, with the varsity race starting at 8:20 a.m.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Tina LaHaye and Nan Murtagh