It's Black Friday! And here is the deal...it's time to put a bow on the 2023 Louisiana cross country season. What better way to do that than to pass out some accolades to a few of the very best cross country runners and coaches in Louisiana?
BOYS' RUNNER OF THE YEAR!
Jesuit's Brady Mullen - No surprise here that Mullen is the MileSplit LA Boys' Runner of the Year! The junior Blue Jay made history by being the first runner in the history of Louisiana to break the 15:00 in a cross country 5K race. Mullen accomplished the feat during the middle of the season at the Nike Town Twilight in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The mid-season momentum continued at the LHSAA state cross country championship. After finishing as the runner-up to his teammate Jack DesRoches in 2022, Mullen claimed his first state title winning the exciting Division 1 boys race with a time of
Five days after the state meet, Mullen struggled to work his way to the front of the pack at the Nike Regional South. Even still, Mullen finished No. 9 with a 15:12.
READ MORE: BRADY BREAKS 15:00 5K BARRIER!
GIRLS' RUNNER OF THE YEAR!
Mt. Carmel's Catalina Reichard- Another selection which should not be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. Reichard made a statement last spring at the LHSAA Class 5A State Outdoor Track and Field Championships by doubling in both the 1600m and 3200m. The message? That she was officially taking the torch from Houma Christian's Emma Bourg as Louisiana's distance queen and running with it...literally.
Since that time, Reichard has only been beaten by one Louisiana high school runner-Parkview Baptist's Lucy Cramer in the season-opening Mobile Challenge of Champions.
Unitil the D1 Region 2 Meet, Reichard had the fastest three-mile time in the state this year with a 17:23 at the SJA Invitational. Reichard was undefeated this season at the three-mile distance.
Reichard finished the season with Louisiana's highest finish at Nike Regional South last Saturday in The Woodlands, TX. Her 5K time of 17:51 was good enough for 14th place.
For all of this and more, Reichard has earned MileSplit LA Girls' Runner of the Year!
MORE CONTENT: INTERVIEW WITH MT. CARMEL'S CATALINA REICHARD!
BOYS' SENIOR OF THE YEAR!
Brother Martin's Gabriel Metoyer - This one was tough. So many great programs with outstanding senior runners. You had Jesuit's Michael Vocke, Parkway's Gabriel Falting, Ruston's Thomas Rogers. And at Catholic, you had two senior runners who led the Bears--David LeMann and Matthew Maynard.
However, this honor is going to the runner who turned in the fastest three-mile time in the state this year and led his Crusaders to a memorable 2023 XC season. Brother Martin's Gabriel Metoyer is our MileSplit LA Boys' Senior of the Year.
What a year it was for the Crusader Harriers of Brother Martin. And while it did not end the way Brother Martin's Gabriel Metoyer would have liked for it to end, the senior is our MileSplit LA Boys' Cross Country senior of the year.
Metoyer's 14:45 at the Catholic Invitational is the No. 1 ranked three-mile time in the Louisiana.
Metoyer finished third behind fellow Brother Martin seniors Daniel Falk and Luke Regan at the D1 Region 3 Championships to help lead the Crusaders to a regional title.
At state, Metoyer (11th; 15:33) finished just outside of the top ten.
GIRLS' SENIOR OF THE YEAR!
SJA's Grace Rennhoff and C.E. Byrd's Jenna Key - You would be hard pressed to find two La. high school distance runners from different parts of the state with as much in common as St. Joseph's]] Rennhoff and C.E. Byrd's Key.
Rennhoff and Key are the MileSplit LA Girls' Seniors of the Year.
Both had outstanding sophomore seasons. Both had to deal with the adversity of injury during their junior year. Both overcame the adversity in 2023 to close out their career with an outstanding cross country season. Both led their teams through historically successful seasons. Both are class acts-on and off the XC course-and represent their school and the state of Louisiana well.
The pair went head-to-head twice during the season. Key was six seconds better than Rennhoff at the SJA Invitational in October. Rennhoff made a late push at the LHSAA State Cross Country Championships to pass Key and lead her team to their eighth consecutive state championship.
BOY'S TEAM OF THE YEAR!
Jesuit - You've got to hand it Brother Martin, Jesuit head Cullen Doody said so himself after the LHSAA State Cross Country Championships. The Crusaders did everything in their power to knock off the Blue Jays.
And they almost did it.
But then again, for Jesuit to remain on top despite a few setbacks in 2023 speaks volumes of the Jesuit cross country program.
While Brother Martin made them earn it, Jesuit is still the best team in Louisiana. For that reason, the Blue Jays are the MileSplit LA Boys' Team of the Year.
GIRL'S TEAM OF THE YEAR!
St. Joseph's Academy - No brainer selection. The best Louisiana girls' cross country program for the eighth year in a row was the MileSplit LA Girls' Team of the Year-- SJA.
Head coach Mark LaHaye wasted no time in motivating his Stickers for No. 9. Shortly after receiving their eighth straight state championship trophy, LaHaye told his team that Mt. Carmel, who finished second to SJA, will not lose anyone.
Unfortunately for LaHaye, he will be without three of his top four runners from 2023. The Stickers will lose Grace Rennhoff, Elise Brown, Hannah Vaughan. All three finished in the top 16 at state.
BOY'S COACH OF THE YEAR!
Brother Martin's Drew Haro - "You cannot say enough good things about the job Brother Martin and Coach Drew have done this year," Jesuit head coach Cullen Doody said after his Blue Jays escaped Natchitoches with their third-straight state championship.
We agree with Coach Doody.
That is the reason Haro is our MileSplit LA's Coach of the Year.
But Haro's influence in Louisiana high school distance running has extended beyond the Brother Martin campus. He has made a difference across the state with his work with the Louisiana Track & Field Coach's Association.
GIRLS' COACH OF THE YEAR!
St. Joseph's Academy's Mark LaHaye--It's not easy to stay on top. To wear the bull's eye on your back is tough. And it is not easy to get the very best out of your team after they have already experienced success. LaHaye has continued to get his SJA runners to compete at the highest level of La. high school distance running a decade.
SJA will need his best--and the girls' best-if they are to keep the streak alive in 2024. Mt. Carmel, led by Catalina Reichard, finished as the runner-up to the Stickers this year and the Cubs don't lose a single runner off the team whereas SJA-as we mentioned previously in this article will lose three of their top four to graduation.
If any coach in Louisiana can dip into his bag of tricks and keep the streak alive-it's St. Joseph's Mark LaHaye who is this year's MileSplit LA Boys' Coach of the Year.
MORE CONTENT: LaHaye, SJA Have Fun At Regionals; Ready For State!
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR!
St. Thomas More's Chapin Stewart- Let's face it. Assistant cross country coaches often get overlooked, but we found one in Lafayette who helped the Cougars win a D2 state championship--the school's first in nine years.
Full disclosure, Stewart has served on the MileSplit LA Content. His most recent work was as a color commentator during the livestream of the LHSAA State Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Call us "homers" if you wish, Stewart, a former member of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette cross country and track and field program, was instrumental in helping STM accomplish their goals last week in Natchitoches.
COMING SOON: ARTICLE ON NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR!