It looks like things are shaping up well for some teams heading into the Livingston Parish Cross Country Championships.
The girls race will begin at 4 p.m., with the boys set for 4:50 at Sidney Hutchinson Park in Walker.
“I think the weather just lining up and that cold front coming through, everybody had a good race,” Denham Springs High coach Andy McLean said of the past weekend’s result. “That’s what you’re looking for on the back half of the season. It gave some kids the confidence to go out there and push a little bit more. Once you break through one barrier, you set another one. I’m excited for where they’re at and just to see what they can do.”
Live Oak will be aiming for its seventh straight team title on the girls and boys sides, but the race for the girls individual title looks to be interesting with Albany’s Cayden Boudreaux, the defending Class 3A state champion and parish champion, facing a field that also includes Walker’s Ava Pitarro and Avery Guidry, Denham Springs’ Hannah Linebaugh and Live Oak’s Sylvia White.
White won the parish championship as a freshman and finished sixth last season, while teammate Brooke Fontenot was third. Pitarro was the runner up, and Guidry was fifth.
Hannah Linebaugh, who made a late push to finish fourth in last year’s race, posted a personal record, finishing third with a time of 19:15.24 at the St. Thomas Aquinas Rollette Chiropractic Invitational over the weekend.
“She’s been really, really consistent,” McLean said of Linebaugh. “Kind of leveled up on her training, and it’s kind of that senior year burst. We’re starting to see a lot of improvement, excited for her, excited abut what she’s going to do. We’ve only got three weeks or so left of racing, so this is where it’s all coming down to. I’m excited to see her try to get under 19. That’s the next goal.”
After the expected frontrunners, McLean said things could get interesting in the girls race.
“It starts to get pretty thick when you start to get to the 21 minute mark and all the way back to 24,” he said. “I think those top five for each squad is going to be important, where that No. five comes in and maybe where that No. six comes in. I think it’s a close race on that side, and we’re excited to get out there and just leave it on the course and see what we can do.”
Walker had eight runners compete in the Watson High School (Miss.) meet., which featured a 5,000 meter race, with all Walker competitors turning in personal bests.
Pitarro finished 15th (19:42.56), Guidry was 28th (20:21.85), while Tamara Fonseca was 93rd (23:01.45).
“Our spread is not quite where we need to have it yet on the girls side, but we’re making progress trying to pull things together as we get closer to regionals, of course,” Silk said. “I think we’re going to run well on Thursday, but it’s going to really be interesting to see what our four through seven runners do.”
Jacob Kennedy led the Walker boys over the weekend, finishing 26th (16:41.49), while Tyler Beatty was 59th (17:37.14).
Kennedy finished fourth in last year’s parish meet, while Mike Rodriquez, who won the individual title for DSHS, transferred.
“I really like where our guys are at right now,” Silk said. “They’ve been working hard, and they’re really starting to jell right now, which is exciting. We would love to qualify our boys team for the state meet (with a) top eight at regionals. It will be nice to see what they can do on hopefully a dry course on Thursday here in the parish meet. I think they’re going to do very well on Thursday.”
Likewise, McLean has been pleased with his team’s progress on the boys side, with Gunter Findley, Gregory Crain and Andrew Duckworth all turning in sub-19 minute times.
“I’ve been putting a lot of, I guess pressure is the right word, but telling those three guys to step up and keep pushing,” McLean said. “I’m excited about Connor Lazzell. It’s his first year running with us. He’s a sophomore, and he’s still trying to figure it out, but he’s in the 19s.”
“I think Walker’s the favorite on the boys side with Jacob running sub-16, really, right now, and then Tyler got under 17 for a three -mile mark at Walker, so they’ve got a couple of top guys that really bring their numbers down, and then you’ve got Live Oak with a couple of their top guys under 18, then my guys are in they mid 18s, so my goal for them is to go out there and continue to PR, or at least PR for their whole school … I want them to go push. The goal for those guys is always to get under 18 and then to keep pushing that barrier.”
Silk said the course will feature some minor changes because of some effects from Hurricane Ida.
“That will be a little bit different of an issue,” McLean said. “It’s been the same course since I was in high school back in ’05 as much as possible with little alterations here and there, so we’ll make those adjustments and hopefully have a really good race.”