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Louisiana schools dominate Mobile’s Challenge of Champions cross country meet

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Brother Martin of New Orleans won the Invitational Boys’ division, while St Joseph’s Academy of Baton Rouge won the Invitational Girls’ title for the third year in a row at the Mobile Challenge of Champions Cross Country Meet held at Langan Park on Saturday.

The meet was contested on a soft course with temperatures in the mid-80s.

Brother Martin placed five runners in the top 10 to overcome a resounding individual win by St. Paul’s Mac Conwell, last year’s individual Invitational Boys’ winner, to defeat the Saints 28-56. American Christian Academy of Tuscaloosa was third with 62 points, while Teurlings Catholic of Lafayette, Louisiana and Baker rounded out the top five with 118 and 175 points respectively.

Conwell won the Invitational Boys’ race with a strong early season time of 15 minutes, 54.86 seconds, but the Crusaders got a second-place finish from Gabriel Metoyer (16:18.16) and placed four more runners in fifth through eighth places to secure the win.

St. Joseph’s Academy won its third team title in the Invitational Girls’ division, defeating McGill-Toolen 38-77 despite McGill-Toolen getting a solid individual win from Anna Adams (19:46.76). St. Joseph’s top finisher was Hannah Vaughan (third, 20:10.11), while Elise Brown (20:36.98) and Michelle Daigle (20:38.59) finished fifth and sixth respectively to secure the team win.

Rounding out the top five schools in the Invitational girls were St. Thomas Aquinas of Hammond, LA (98), St. Paul’s (128) and another Louisiana school, Mt. Carmel of New Orleans (141).

In the Open Division, a pair of local athletes won individual titles. UMS-Wright’s Alex Gamble won the Open Division boys’ race in 17:30.33, while Daphne’s Sophie West won the Open Division girls’ race in 21:31.68. In the team competition, Brother Martin took the boys’ title, defeating Davidson 41-110, while McGill-Toolen won the Open Girls’ team title, defeating Daphne 32-77.

Performance of the day: Definitely Conwell, who looked in midseason form as he defeated his nearest competitor by 26 seconds.

By the numbers: Total number of finishers in Open Division boys’ race: 242; total number of finishers in Open Division Girls’ race: 139. Total finishers in Invitational Boys’ race: 71; total number of finishers in the Invitational Girls’ race: 92. Total numbers of schools represented: 23; total states represented: 3.

Did you know? This was the 30th edition of the Mobile Challenge of Champions Cross Country meet.

Coach speak: “It was our first meeting of the year, so they were a little nervous. They were a little down because it has been storming so much in Baton Rouge. We’ve been running slop the past two weeks and we’re kind of beat up a little bit. We did about what we expected we could do, with coming off the past couple of weeks being rained out and not having consistent training.” — Mark Lahaye, St. Joseph Academy head coach.

“This is a special group. Ever since they’ve been freshmen, they’ve been close knit at practice. They’re friends, they do everything together and they train together. I tell them that every year they’re going to get better. That’s a nice reflection of how this group is.” — Drew Harro, Brother Martin boys’ coach.

They said it: “It was hot for sure, but we train at 3:30 every day, so I was ready for it. The competition we’ve been in has been incredible, and with us being in Class 7A for cross country and Class 6A for track & field, we’re getting the best of the best.” — Conwell.

“It was the first time I’ve run a 5K race in a year. I took last season off from cross country because I played soccer last year. But I wanted to go out strong in the first mile, hang on in the second, and take control of the race with a half mile to go.” — Adams, on her win in the Invitational Girls’ race.