LaHaye on SJA D-I Champion: It was Vaughan's Turn


If there is a class on patience and perseverance at St. Joseph's Academy, school leaders would do well to allow junior Sticker  Hannah Vaughan, who won the LHSAA Division I Girls State Championship on Monday with a time of 18:05.60, to teach the class.

Vaughan's story for the 2022 season is this, it's not how you start, but how you finish that counts. She didn't win a race until November when she won the D-I Region 2 Meet on November 3. 

That was the first time all season she finished ahead of Sticker teammates Michelle Daigle and Elise Brown . Vaughan won regionals with a time of 18:01.79. 

More importantly, she won Monday morning at the LHSAA state championships on the campus of Northwestern State University-with a little self-talk and a brief exchange with Daigle at the two mile mark of Monday's race. 

"It was kind of cold and everything," Vaughan said. "When we started off I just told myself-'you've got this.' I just tried to stay with my teammates, and we just pushed each other the whole time and just did the best we could."

Vaughan's performance was the highlight of an SJA squad which has now won seven straight titles in the highest classification of the LHSAA. The Stickers have also won eight of the last nine state championships.

How much more can the trophy case at St. Joseph's Academy take?

Head coach Mark LaHaye doesn't know, but what does know is that the feeling of winning a state title never changes.

"It never gets old," LaHaye said. "No. Not a chance."

"We didn't take it for granted," LaHaye said. "We didn't take the race for granted, or take Ruston for granted. Our mode was to attack from the start, and I think Daigle did that. You can see how we all fell out. It's really our four, five, and six runners that we never really know who is going to come out where. Our one, two, and three really did the job. We closed well."

Daigle, a sophomore, finished third with (18:14). Brown finished eighth (18:38). Grace Rennhoff finished No. 15 (19:20), and Madison Mannino finished at No. 17 (19:30). 


And his state champion?

"It was Vaughan's turn," LaHaye said smiling. "I just really never know. It was phenomenal."

Tears streamed from the eyes of Ruston senior Lily Garrett as she took pictures on the podium with her Ruston teammates as the Lady Bearcats received the state runner-up trophy with a score of 77, 37 more than St. Joseph's 40 points. Garrett, who has signed a national letter of intent with the University of Tennessee, was the 2021 LHSAA Class 5A state cross country champion and went on to win the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award. 

Mt. Carmel was third with 87 points. 

Vaughan wasn't the only one talking to herself during the race. She had a brief exchange with her teammate, Daigle, during the race.

"A little before the two-mile mark  me and Michelle talked to each other," Vaughan said. "We were like 'we can do this' and we both surged. And just from there I never stopped."

Until she cross finished line on the track inside the Walter Ledet Track and Field Complex ---A state champion.