COLUMN: Was It Worth It?


By Jerry Byrd, MileSplit LA State Editor

There is one scene from the LHSAA State Cross Country Championships which keeps replaying in my head.

It wasn't a fantastic finish-like that of LCA's Talan Sievers at the end of the boys' Division 4 race, or Mt. Carmel's Catalina Reichard walking behind the chairs just before the trophy presentation to congratulate all of the girls who made the top ten in the D1 girls' race. Or the Holy Cross team, led by Coach Blake Baldassaro, shaking the hands of the David Thibodaux STEM team before taking the podium to receive the D2 state championship.

Don't get me wrong. All of those were really special moments to witness.

But my favorite moment was the last.

 It was the Westminster Christian Academy team circled up on the infield of the Walter Ledet Track & Field Complex after avenging their loss a year ago to Christ Episcopal School to win the LHSAA D5 Boys' State Championship.

As I waited to interview Coach Greg Melancon, I stood off to the side and listened to what he  had to say to his team. It was one question.

"Was it worth it?"

Are you kidding, coach? Of course it was! And Coach Melancon knew the answer before he even asked it.

There is nothing like winning a state championship. But it's a little sweeter when it's against an opponent you lost to the year before. 

Then the special post-race team moment took an emotional turn as Coach Melancon allowed the seniors to speak to the team--one last time. 

Senior Wade Roubique went first. 

Roubique, who finished with No.25 with a time of 19:01, told his teammates that the state championship they had just won was not a matter of luck. It was a product of all of the hardwork they put in throughout the course of the season. It was because of the determination and their effort which led them to the title. Roubique told his teammates that he could not be prouder of to be a part of the WCA cross country program.

Then Jake Knott, wearing street clothes, spoke. Knott was injured during the season and did not run at state.

As he spoke, Knott face turned red. He tried to hold back the tears, but was unsuccessful. With the tears rolling down his cheeks, Knott told his teammates that even though he was not able to run due to the injury, he was thankful to be on the journey. 

Finally, Knott told his teammates that he loved them.

I only knew one member of the WCA team-- Owen Melancon, who I had interviewed a couple of weeks prior to the state meet. I watched him as he listened to his senior teammates. I wondered if Owen was taking notes and thinking about what he would say next year when he is a senior and has just finished his last race. 

As I headed home, it dawned on me that scenes like the one I shared with WCA took place all over the complex. But Melancon was asking that question because the Crusaders won. 

Could other runners--even through the disappointments--say the same? 

I was reminded by the following quote..

"If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

That comes to us from the good doctor, who authored many of the books that we came to love when we learning to reads--Dr. Seuss. 

Last week in Natchitoches, some won state championships. Some gave everything they had and came up short. Some finished dead last.

Some worked all season to make it to the state meet and didn't qualify to the "big dance". 

But all have one thing in common.

They stepped to the starting line this season. They competed. They could have been like hundreds of others across the state who doubted their abilities. They could have been like the those who were capable, but who weren't willing to pay the price. 

Yes, it WAS worth it! 

For all who competed at the LHSAA State Cross Country Meet and even those who didn't qualify. Thank you for pushing through the workouts during the intense Louisiana summer heat. Thank you for making the sacrifices you made to be a part of the Louisiana high school cross country season. 

The MileSplit LA Content Team appreciates you. All of you! The winners and the runners who finished dead last. This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the opportunity we had this season to watch you compete, to capture the moments in pictures and videos, to interview you, to tell your stories through articles and to bring it to the Louisiana running community. 

Our hope is that now that the season is over that you--like WCA--can say that it  was indeed worth it.