Seniors Best Juniors as Cross Country Takes Top Honors at Country Day Meet
Jesuit cross country coach Rudy Horvath ’86 is about as even keel as they come. So to suggest that there was a sense of panic heading into the Country Day Cajun Classic would be to exaggerate things. But there was most definitely a sense of urgency.
With just over a month remaining before Horvath’s troops head to Natchitoches to defend their state title, the seven-man roster for that race remains unsettled–very unsettled. Three runners have separated themselves from the pack. Senior Carlos Zervigon, along with juniors Reed Meric and Eli Sisung, all of whom raced at state last year, have already earned their repeat trip.
Beyond that, a group of twelve runners remains clustered together. “It’s time for some of those guys to make a statement,” said Horvath prior to Saturday morning’s race. “I want some of the guys to stake their claims to spots.”
Indeed, Horvath’s determination to get some roster clarity trumped any desire to pick up a team title at Saturday morning’s race in City Park. He decided to enter two seven-man teams, one dominated by seniors and the other by juniors, in effect making the day a race by his guys against each other rather than the rest of the field.
The rest of the field, it turned out, was no match for either of the the Blue Jay squads. When the dust settled, Jesuit’s senior-laden team bested the juniors, taking first place with a score of 30 points (in cross country, the place in which a team’s top five runners finish is added to determine the team score, with the lowest tally winning the race).
As for roster clarity, there were no surprises at the top of the heap. Junior Reed Meric bested senior Carlos Zervigon to claim the individual title with a time of 16:13 on the three-mile course. Zervigon crossed the finish line six seconds later.
Two other Jesuit runners finished in the Top Five overall. Senior John James came in at 16:43 with junior John Kling right behind at 16:44.
“That was certainly one of John Kling’s best races today,” said Horvath. “He may not have PRed (run a personal record), but he stayed within 31 seconds of Reed. That was something we stressed all week–trying to get our second-tier guys to close the gap with Reed and Carlos. We were shooting for thirty seconds, but I’ll take thirty-one.”
Two other Jesuit runners crossed the tape in 17 minutes or under. Junior Tanner Tresca finished with a time of 16:52, while senior Nick Slay came in at an even 17 minutes.
Also running on Saturday were seniors Johnny LaForge and John Nimmo; juniors Justin Guerin, Luke Malter, Hayden Ricca, and Josh Harper; and sophomores Jordan Tufts and Garret Crumb. Sisung did not race on Saturday.
“I definitely saw some things I liked today,” said Horvath. “Tanner and the Johns (Kling and James) all made statements, and those statements are duly noted. But I haven’t seen enough yet to make any definitive calls on the final four guys for the state roster. Next week will be pivotal.”
That pivotal race to which Horvath is referring is the Walker Shootout in Walker, La. “That will be a better test, with conditions a little more like state. It was a small field today. Next week, there will be 300 guys lining up. I should be able to make some decisions after that.”
“I’d certainly prefer if the guys made those decisions easy.”