Cross Country Strong at Stampede, but Wolves Stronger
Picture this. An elite prep cross country race with more than 300 runners from schools in six states. As always, the team scores are tabulated by adding up the place in which your top five runners finish.
Would you be happy if your top two guys finished in the Top Five overall? If your #5 guy placed 34th?
You bet you would. And that’s precisely what happened to Jesuit on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Gulf Coast XC Stampede in Pensacola, Fla.
About the only thing that could have been better? If those numbers had been good enough to win the team trophy.
On a day when Jesuit was very impressive, St. Paul’s, the top-ranked team in Louisiana, was even more impressive. The Wolves placed three runners in the Top Ten (including overall winner Eric Colston) and all of its top five in the Top Twenty en route to besting the Blue Jays by a score of 47 to 91.
Jesuit Coach Rudy Horvath ’86 wasn’t about to let the Wolves’ dominant performance ruin his day. “I’m really happy with how our guys ran,” said Horvath. “Do we need to get better to challenge St. Paul’s? Yes. But it’s early in the season and we just finished second in a big-time field. I can live with that.”
As has been the case all year, the Jays were paced by junior Reed Meric (16:35) and senior Carlos Zervigon (16:38), who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Also scoring for the Jays on Saturday were juniors Eli Sisung (17:10, 19th), Tanner Tresca (17:33, 29th), and John Kling (17:39, 34th).
If those times look a tad slow, there’s a reason. Saturday’s race was a 5-K, as opposed to the normal three miles. “That adds 40-45 seconds to the times,” said Horvath.
Also lacing up their sneakers with the top-tier runners on Saturday were senior Nick Slay (52nd), and a quartet of juniors: Hayden Ricca (66th), Lucas Malter (83rd), Josh Harper (89th), and Justin Guerin (111th). All of Jesuit’s runners came in at under 19:00. For the second straight race, senior Johnny LaForge sat out with plantar fasciitis. Senior John James, meanwhile, missed the meet due to a death in his family.
“Having John and Johnny might have made a bit of a difference in the margin,” said Horvath. “But let’s be honest. Nobody was beating St. Paul’s today.”
The Pensacola race was one of two for the Blue Jays during Homecoming Week. On Thursday, Sept. 24, the varsity’s second-tier runners competed in the Newman Invitational in Audubon Park.
Senior John Nimmo took advantage of the flat, dry course and relatively mild weather (and avoided the course’s notorious ankle-twisting root hazards) to shatter his personal record (PR) en route to leading the Jays to a 5th place finish. Nimmo’s time of 17:24 placed him 14th overall. It also caught Horvath’s attention.
“John certainly ran like a top-tier guy today,” said Horvath after Thursday’s meet. “If he keeps shaving time off that PR, he could work his way into the mix of folks I’ll be looking at for the state roster.”
Also scoring for Jesuit on Thursday were junior Max Bell (18:14), senior Bert Gilmore (18:33), sophomore Ben Finicle (18:48), and senior Jacob Dubos (18:59).
Bell’s time was also a PR, and followed a disappointing 20:20 in the previous week’s Rummel-Chapelle Invitational. In that race, Bell neglected Coach Horvath’s advice to start slow in the sauna-like conditions and paid the price, struggling mightily in the final mile.
“Max ran a much smarter race this week,” said Horvath. “I’m really happy for him.”
The team takes a break from formal racing next weekend before returning to the City Park course on Saturday, Oct. 10 for the Country Day Cajun Classic.