The Pack is Back: Cross Country Goes Deep to Defend District Title
Jesuit’s cross country team got strong performances from top to bottom to edge Brother Martin and capture its fourth consecutive district championship on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at City Park. The Jays finished with 50 points, six ahead of the Crusaders. John Curtis, expected to be neck and neck with Jesuit and Brother Martin, held out their fifth and sixth runners for unknown reasons and slipped to a distant third place.
All seven Blue Jay runners finished in the Top Twenty. Junior Reed Meric was first across the tape for the Jays, crossing the finish line in fourth place overall with a time of 16:12 for the three-mile course. Senior Carlos Zervigon also cracked the Top Ten, finishing ninth overall with a time of 16:19. Rounding out the scoring for the Jays were a trio of juniors–Eli Sisung (16:29, 11th), John Kling (16:33, 12th), and Tanner Tresca (16:55, 14th). Seniors John James and John Nimmo finished in 19th and 20th place, respectively.
“I was saying all week that we’d need our best team effort of the year to win this thing,” said an obviously excited Horvath. “And boy did these guys come up big.”
“Sometimes I take Reed, Carlos and Eli for granted. But those guys are so important. Reed chased down three guys in the final 500 meters, one of whom was from Brother Martin. That’s a four-point swing right there.”
“And what can I say about John Kling? He went out on the biggest stage of his cross country career and absolutely killed it.”
Of course, what Horvath liked more than anything was the split between his seven runners. In last year’s magical run to the state title, Horvath’s troops posted an unbelievable 27-second split between their first and seventh-place runners. If there’s been one concern this year, it’s been getting that split back down.
On Wednesday, the split between one and seven was a very respectable 56 seconds.
“A tight split is important in district,” explains Horvath. “But it’s even more important at state where there are a whole lot more runners on the course. A tight pack not only keeps your score low, it also inflates the scores of your competitors.”
For the novice fan, in cross country the place in which a team’s top five runners finish is added together to arrive at a team’s total, with the lowest team score winning the meet. A team’s sixth and seventh place finishers do not, therefore, factor into their own team’s score. But they can inflate the scores of other teams by finishing ahead of their fifth and maybe even fourth and third place runners.
While Horvath was thrilled at Wednesday’s outcome, he’s still focused on the big picture. “We brought our A-game today and that’s great. But if we’re going to beat Brother Martin again at state, or a full-strength John Curtis team, or St. Paul’s (the state’s top-ranked team), we’ll need our A-plus game.”
The Jays have one more meet before heading to Natchitoches on Nov. 17 to defend their state title. Next up is the Allstate Sugar Bowl Metro Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the City Park course.