St. Joseph's Ready For Big Saturday At Southern Showcase!


When it comes to his excitement about this weekend's Southern Showcase in Huntsville, AL., St. Joseph's Academy head coach Mark LaHaye has not had a poker face.

"I told our girls haven't been this excited for a weekend in a long time," LaHaye said Friday afternoon as he was driving-with only an hour to go before reaching his destination.

With the way his Stickers have performed over the first two weeks, there is much for LaHaye and other SJA supporters to be excited about.

St. Joseph's began the season at The Opener where Grace Rennhoff, who is back healthy after an injury-plagued junior campaign, led the Stickers to the team title. Rennhoff also won the the individual title with a time of 18:56. 

Four other SJA runners were in the top at The Opener. They included Michelle Daigle (No. 2, 19:16), Elise Brown (No.4, 19:41), Hannah Vaughan (No. 6, 19:49), and Kaitlyn Francise (No. 9, 20:08). 

The Stickers loved the Choctaw Trails course in Clinton, MS so much they decided to change their schedule to return to the course later this season.

"It's just a gorgeous course dedicated to cross country," LaHaye said. "We don't get thee opportunity to see that very often around here."

St. Joseph's trains and competes at Highland Road Park where LaHaye said his athletes find themselves dodging frisbees on a regular basis. 

Coach LaHaye's team used the momentum from The Opener into week No. 2 when the Stickers dominated the field at Episcopal's Round Table Run. SJA had six runners in the meet's top 14, including freshman Charlotte Beck, who finished 14th with a three-mile time of 19:16. 

Again, it was Rennhoff leading the SJA contingent.

"She is incredible," LaHaye said. "She is truly a senior leader who leads by example. Day in and day out she comes to work and has a great, positive attitude. She has a great rapport with the entire team. She is not vocal by any means, but she is always positive and works her tail off. She is truly self-motivated."

The ultimate compliment came from a freshman on the SJA squad who told a coach that she wanted to be "just like Grace" when she grows up. 

As the team steps up in class this weekend in Huntsville, LaHaye is excited to see how his team stacks up.

"I think it will tell us a lot," LaHaye said. "We will see what happens."

LaHaye expects his senior laden team will fare better than last year's squad which finished No. 9 at the Southern Showcase with an average time of 19:45. Hannah Vaughan, who would go on to win the 2022 LHSAA Division I State Cross Country Championships, was SJA's leading runner with a time of 19:06 which was good for a No. 33 finish. 

St. Joseph's will also have a varsity and junior varsity team competing at the Lafayette Christian Academy's Knights Invitational in Lafayette.