BOYS TEAM RANKINGS 1-7
Parkway enters Division I and manages to return all of their runners with the exception of one. Leading the crew is Gabriel Falting. He had the best finish out of anyone one of his teammates at the 5A state meet last year. His returning teammates were just as young as he is, so there is plenty of room to grow for this program.
The downside of this program is that its results are not often consistent in terms of time. Looking at Parkway's top five runners, there is no clear-cut progression between each meet. This could prove difficult for gauging where the program is, in terms of fitness.
Teurlings Catholic returns all with the exception of their star runner last year, Cameron Kelly. This loss of a clear-cut low-stick may hit hard for the team, but it still benefits from a visible attempt to pack run. Leading the pack is Jude Guidry, who took second at the 4A state meet just last year, and is one of the favorites to take home the Division II individual title.
In terms of team performances and personal bests, this team is similar to Parkway. There are a few irregularities when it comes to race performances, but their performance at the 4A state meet speaks for itself in terms of their fitness and ability.
A very interesting team makes its return to the preseason rankings. When we talk about Catholic High, most think about their historic success and incredible program depth. Right now, they are reflecting just that. The team loses FIVE runners that competed at the state meet last year and still manage to return around the top of our rankings. The team's individuals do not always have the most consistent track record, but they always turn up when the pressure is on.
Leading this team is a returning duo of Matthew Maynard and Winston Decuir. These two both had successful cross country and track seasons, more so for Decuir. He displayed his range this past year by running 46.9 for 400m and 1:54.9 for 800m. He is a dark horse for this upcoming cross-country season; it's hard to tell how much more of an impact he can make on the long-distance events.
Mandeville makes an appearance in Division I after finishing 5th in 5A last year. They lose their star runner, Nathan Fontan, but host another young superstar alongside other veteran runners. This team will have some work to do in shooting for more consistent performances from its runners, but the team still shows some promise.
Someone to keep an eye on this year is rising sophomore Kayden Hedrick. He broke 16-minutes in his debut season and can potentially do even better once he matures. In addition to Hedrick, the team finished VERY close together; they boast one of the best 1-5 splits in the entire state.
Brother Maritn returns a symphony of pack running. They do this by returning everyone who competed on the state meet team last year, as well as having a 1-5 split of just 14.9 seconds! This team truly encapsulates the idea of cross country being a team sport. These boys are inseparable and can only become more lethal as a team as they continually improve.
It is hard to single out one person to keep an eye out for on this team, considering that they are all equally talented; however, Eyan Calico looks to be a clear favorite based on his performances in cross country from last year and his most recent track season with his 9:44 3200m. Another to potentially keep an eye on is Gabriel Metoyer, who also ran exceptionally well during the track season with his mark of 9:51 in the 3200m as well.
Taking account for their loss of Caleb Babineaux and Nelson Blackburn, Ruston is still returning a strong team this year. Thomas Rogers leads the charge with his impressive performance in the 3200m this past track season with a 9:47 and his 17th place finish at the 5A state championships last year. Also, don't count out Bryar Madden who is yet another reliable runner for this distance squad.
In terms of team performance, they do not display a closeness between its runners like the other teams surrounding them do. Their 1-5 gap is their weak point, but with a strong enough performance from their frontrunners, this can be counteracted. They finished 3rd at the 5A cross country championships last year, but look to be one of the favorites as we enter this season.
To nobody's surprise, Jesuit returns as the clear favorite for all of Louisiana. This team is leaps and bounds ahead of every other program at the moment. This can all be seen from Jesuit's 16th place team finish at Runninglane XC Nationals, as well as their collective performances from the track season. It also only adds to the momentum that this team carries when taking into account that they return every single competitor that ran last year, as well as some new additions to their team.
Michael Vocke and Jack DesRoches are the routine front runners, coupled with strong support from Lucas Sampedro. This trifecta is hard to beat, but it continues with names like Robert Buisson, Leland Crawford, Brady Mullen, and Aeric Wender. These are all athletes that represent the best of Louisiana, and all on one team. It would not be out of the question for Jesuit to potentially perfect score at this upcoming cross country state meet.