TRADITION TUESDAY: Parkway XC And The Firecracker 5K!


There are a few things you can count on in this life. Death, Taxes, and members of the Parkway Cross Country team--both present and past--getting together at Sportspectrum's annual Firecracker 5K on July 4th in Shreveport. For Parkway head coach Kent Falting, it's one of his favorite team traditions.

"I think it's neat," Falting said. "The kids race and have fun. When they show up in September, they will race and have some nerves, but at the Firecracker 5K there is no stress and they get to express themselves."

What makes it even more special is all of the alumni who stop by to say hello..

"It's cool that our Parkway cross country alumni come and meet the kids on the team," Falting said.

Even though she graduated in 2020 and recently graduated from Louisiana Tech, Parkway alum  Savannah Davis remembers what it was like to take part in the Parkway tradition.

"It was the best," Davis said. "It was always something I looked forward to. It was my worst run of the entire season with the terrible hills and the heat, but it was always the biggest thing to look forward to. Yeah, I miss running with my team."

On Tuesday, not only did Davis stop by to see her old coach, but she also saw former Parkway teammate Peyton Pipes, who is currently playing soccer at ULM. 

In 2018 there was a challenge between the alumni and the current Parkway team. It was decided it would be scored like a cross country race. The 2018 Parkway team beat the Parkway alumni team that year. 

For Falting's son, Gabriel Falting, Tuesday was his last year taking part in the tradition as a current member of the team. If he runs in it next year, it will be as part of the Parkway alumni group.

"He started running in the Firecracker 5K when he was in the seventh grade, and he has won a mug every year he has raced," Falting said. There was only one year when a broken foot kept him from running.

Coach Falting started the Parkway team tradition 15 years ago.

"It falls in the middle of summer, and it gives the runners  a chance to race, have fun, and break the monotony of summer training," Falting said.

It also gives Falting and his coaching staff a measuring stick to see where the team is at.

"We look at the times and compare them to teams and runners we've had in the past," Falting said. 

In his last Firecracker 5K as a member of the Parkway cross country team, Gabe Falting was sixth overall with a time of 16:19.62. Not bad considering Falting has been representing Parkway High School at Boys State for the last seven days.

"Yeah, it's getting pretty exciting here in North Louisiana" Coach Falting said. "Gabe and Tripp have been battling for a couple of years now. Both of them are going to be seniors. Both crossed the line at 16:17 for 5K..on July 4. So, we're pretty excited for Gabe and what he has got this year."

And as far as the kick at the end?

"I think sleep depravation could've played a role, but I'm pretty excited about what he did today," Falting said.

While he was excited for his son, Falting was "shocked" by Panther sophomore Noah Lafitte.

"Our fifth runner today was Noah Lafitte," Falting said. "He was our tenth man last year. They started cheering for Lafitte and I was like 'What?! So, it was exciting to see him come and shock the world like that. We are excited to see what the season will look like."

Other Parkway boys turning in impressive Firecracker 5K performances were Gary Smith (No. 10, 16:48), Brennan Robin (No. 14, 16:59), and Jesus Cordova (No. 30, 17:52).

The Parkway girls were led by Ember Pierce (22:48), Cheyenne Olson (24:48), and ReaganThompson (25:58). 

Loyola's Roemer, who talked to Falting during the race and encouraged him to feed off of each other, out kicked Falting in the last 100 meters of the race and finished with a fifth pace overall finish and time of 16:19.28. 

After today, Parkway looks to finish the summer and get ready for their opening race of the 2023 season. This year, the Panthers will open up their season in exactly 60 days at the City Auto Memphis Twilight Cross Country Classic