Christ Episcopal cross country coach Chad Hunt knew his riders would be challenged when they compete in the LHSAA cross country championships at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches on November 14.
The weather made for sloppy and windy conditions. Also, the defending state champions were without last year’s two individual winners, as standouts Svenya Stoyanoff and Jake Tournillon graduated.
And the Wildcats, who competed in Class B last season, moved to the expanded V Division this year.
The result was still the same as CES won both tag team titles for the second season in a row.
“There were schools there that we never really raced against, so it was a challenge,” Hunt said. “It was a new experience, and I’m glad our kids focused. They came out on top. I’m proud of them.”
Christ Episcopal won the Division V women’s cross country team state title by placing four runners in the top 11. The Wildcats (60 points) edged Highland Baptist Christian School by six points.
Freshman Noah Watson won the individual title with a time of 19:38.3. Seventh-grader Myrina Brown (20:36.4) finished second, while runner-up Addie Lee (21:00.3) came seventh. Other points scorers for the Wildcats were seniors Elizabeth Perry Walton (21:32.3) in 11th and Meaghan Burke (26:01.7) in 57th.
Watson came in seventh as an eighth grader last year but shaved more than a minute and a half to take first place this season.
“My body felt good. It was just the weather that got me down. I think since last year I was a lot more prepared with the training,” Watson said.
“I led the whole race. There was someone with me for the first mile and then after that I was pretty much on my own for the rest. I didn’t want to slow down because I wanted to keep my pace, and I did.”
It was Christ Episcopal’s fourth female state title. Hunt said Watson’s individual title was the result of hard work.
“Noah has been leading the pack all season,” he said. “She has improved throughout the season and I am excited about her future. I think the sky is the limit. She loves to run and she loves to compete. It’s not hard to motivate her for training .”
The Wildcats won the Division V boys’ tag team state title by placing four runners in the top 10. CES (64 points) held Westminster Christian by eight points.
“Having four in the top 10 was a goal to achieve. I thought they could do it, so to see them do it was special,” Hunt said.
It was a total team effort for the boys as Mason Lyons senior (17:08.8) finished in fourth place. Juniors Hugh Penton (17:43.0) and Marcus Moses (17:51.5) finished fifth and sixth respectively. Moses only competed the last month of the season after a summer injury sidelined him in the early fall.
Sophomore Ryder Clark rounded out the top 10 with a time of 18:07.8. Eighth Noah Clark (20:11.6) was the Wildcats’ last points scorer in 41st place.
It was Christ Episcopal’s third state title for boys. Hunt said he was proud of how the Wildcats defended their state crowns.
“They had a taste of success last year with the older kids, and I think they wanted to keep that going,” Hunt said. “They worked hard all season, and I think they wanted to prove to everyone that they could do the job.” too. They did a good job. I can’t say enough how proud I am of them.”