MANDEVILLE SKIPPERS ON THEIR WAY TO A SECOND PLACE FINISH IN THE 2021 REGION II-5A MEET
Mandeville head coach Anthony Pequeno is excited about this Saturday's season-opening meet- the St. Michael's Bayou Boogie Classic at Baton Rouge's Highland Road Park. Part of the excitement is finding which Skipper is going to step up and fill the void left by Nathan Fontan.
Whoever steps up will have some big spikes to fill.
"He was just consistent," Pequeno said. "It didn't matter if it was an easy run or a long run, Nathan was always there, and always consistent with the effort and focus. Some runners have a bad practice and let it bother them. Nathan didn't do that. A big part for Nathan was just his consistency."
Pequeno said sophomore Max Jacketti just might be "the guy."
"Max had a breakout season as a freshman," Pequeno said. "He may be our fastest guy."
Since fellow sophomore Kaden Hedrick decided to focus on triathlons, Pequeno said that all of the Skippers, which are No. 4 in MileSplit Louisiana's preseason team rankings, seem ready to step up and fill the void.
"I think they all decided to step up a little bit after Kayden decided to not run," Pequeno said. "I think they have also worked a little harder in getting ready for the season."
Pequeno saw this over the summer as the Skippers met for evening workouts starting in late May.
"The attendance was really good," Pequeno said. "There are always some vacations and things like that, but for the most part attendance was really good, and I'm proud of the work they put in. Putting in the work in the summer, that's the first step."
Mandeville hopes to take another step Saturday morning.
The Skippers finished second at the Region II-5A Meet to Catholic, but gone are Fontan, Hedrick, and Matthew Kinler are gone. Jacketti was Mandeville's No. 6 runner. Ben Domangue, who ran a 16:20.16 was the No. 5 runner.
"It's interesting that those two girls are the only ones on the team who ran at the state meet last year," Pequeno said. "We have several girls who have never even put on a jersey and run in a cross country meet. I'm excited to see what they can do."
Hayes finished 19th (19:50) at the Region II-5A Meet at the end of last year. Only one other freshman in the region, St. Joseph's Michelle Daigle, ran faster.
Endriss was just behind Hayes, finishing 23rd with a time of 19:58.
Pequeno sees the Skipper's glass as being half full entering the 2022 season. Now the only question is which young Skipper will help the program fill the glass to the top.
The head Skipper will begin to find the answers to that question Saturday morning at the Bayou Boogie Classic.