By Keyon K. Jeff
Constant drizzle Friday afternoon made for ideal running conditions at the second September Series cross country meet hosted at Terrebonne High School.
The Vandebilt Catholic girls and Central Lafourche boys claimed their respective team cross country titles.
Vandebilt sophomore Brynn Kelso won the girls event, while Houma Christian junior Antonio Delgado took the boys race.
“This a great win for us. Our goal was to run good times in this cool weather, ignore the rain,” Vandebilt coach David Malone said. “Brynn’s been having some injury issues. So we brought her here to relax, run a good time, and she led our squad to victory.”
“Our boys ran pretty good. Some of them set PRs (personal records),” Central Lafourche coach Traci Constant said. “They were pretty close to the times they ran last year.”
Kelso led the girls race the entire way, winning in 18 minutes, 59 seconds. Houma Christian’s Emma Bourg finished second in 22:16, and H.L. Bourgeois’ Payton Theriot placed third in 22:30.
“I’m proud of everyone from our team. I had a rocky start to the season. This was a big confidence booster,” Kelso explained. “I love running in the rain, personally. I know a lot of people don’t like it, but it’s really nice.”
The Lady Terriers had three other runners in the Top 10 – Riley Hamilton, Madelene Sonnier and Natalie Arnette – to secure the girls title with 52 points. Houma Christian came in second with 50 points, and Central Lafourche placed third with 80.
“I hate to say it’s my B-squad, but it’s my seven through 14 girls, except for Brynn.” Malone said. “They came out and won a trophy for us.”
“In terms of coaching it hasn’t changed much,” Malone said. “We try to limit the locker room to so many people. The kids are runners. They want to be together. You just stress the regulations. Wear a face mask, try to social distance. The meets are changing because they’re smaller. You don’t as many runners in the starting. So far so good.”
In the boys race, Delgado pulled away from the pack one mile into the 3-mile race, cruising to victory in 16 minutes, 31 seconds. Central Lafourche’s Gabriel Hodson (17:33), Trevor Demei (17:34) and Ethan Milstad (17:53) took second, third and fourth, respectively.
“I had a game plan coming in, having been disappointed last meet,” Delgado said. “I knew I had the fitness. I just had to do it the right way. It felt to be a little cooler during the race. It was perfect weather to run.”
The Trojans controlled the boys event with three runners in the Top 5 to garner 53 points. Houma Christian was second with 68 points, and Thibodaux placed third with 82, followed by H.L Bourgeois (95), Vandebilt Catholic (108), Terrebonne (114) and South Terrebonne (145).
“With everything going on this season, we weren’t able to practice as much,” Constant said. “The few practices we had, we’ve had to push harder. It’s been rough on them, but they’re making it.”
With COVID-19 wrecking the rhythm of school and athletic activities, coaches and runners have tried to keep training as normal as possible.
“Coaching with all the LHSAA guidelines, it’s challenging at the beginning of the workout, setting up before warm-ups,” Houma Christian coach Lucas Curole said. “You got to take temperatures, keep everybody spread apart. In the middle of the workout with running, it’s nothing different.
Because of the limit set on how many runners can participate in a meet, many schools canceled cross country meets they regularly host.
Terrebonne High coach Marty Collins decided to host a meet every week during September to give local cross country teams the opportunity to compete.
“We weren’t going to sit around,” Collins said. “We have the space. We’re the only sport can compete in any phase the state is in.”
With the state now in Phase 3, meets can have up to 50 runners at the starting line, roughly seven teams with seven athletes each. The local cross country community is grateful to being a little closer to normal.
“I really want to thank Coach Marty to putting on this summer series,” Curole said.“If it wasn’t for him, a lot of local teams would have a tough time running a lot of meets.”