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E.D. White runners peaked at right time


The E.D. White Catholic boys and girls cross country teams pose with the state championship trophies on Tuesday. (Photo by Submitted)


The E.D. White Catholic boys and girls cross country teams understand what it means to be peaking at the right time.

After posting some solid times during the regular season, E.D. White waited until it mattered most to have its best performance of the season — at Tuesday's Class 3A state cross country meet.

The Cardinals and Lady Cardinals each set their sights on dominating the field on the three-mile course at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, and both teams didn't disappoint.

The boys team scored 43 points to beat West Feliciana for the state title, while the girls team scored 31 to easily top South Beauregard.

It was the second straight year that E.D. White swept the cross country team titles;

"We've been running pretty decent all year, but I that we hadn't peaked yet, thank goodness," E.D. White coach Don Grabert said. "We actually ran about a minute better with the boys and girls than last year. It's a testament that the competition was better, but we rose to the occasion and ran better collectively. It was a much better day with the participants we had."

Senior Quentin Landry said there was some pressure going in as the reigning state champions because the teams had more to lose than last year.

"It's definitely one thing to get to the top, but to stay at the top is the real challenge," Landry said. "I felt like our young guys stepped up and created competition among the team, which is harder."

Five runners placing in the Top 20 helped pace the E.D. White boys to the state title. Ian Coates led the way with a fourth-place finish (16 minutes, 50.68 seconds) and was followed by teammates Devin Turner (12th, 17:14.25), John Stafford (13th, 17:24.97), Stephen Boudreaux (16th, 17:32.27), Landry (18th, 17:45.33), William Tanner (22nd, 17:55.95) and Andrew Daigle (27th, 18:16.35).

Turner, a senior, had to battle his nerves heading into the competition because it was first time running in the state meet.

"The atmosphere was great out there, and it was like a Super Bowl," he said. "But since it was my first time, I was nervous … very nervous. The butterflies were there, but being around people who have been here before helped calm me down and helped me feel like we could do it again."

For the girls, the Lady Cardinals relied on its depth to win back-to-back state tiles. With last year's state runner-up Olivia Coffman out with an injury, E.D. White relied on a new group of girls -- Emily Sauce (third, 20:11.64), Hannah Babin (fifth, 20:34.43), Adelyne Labat (seventh, 20:42.28), Mimi Guidry (ninth, 21:04.45), Courtney Troxclair (12th, 21:18.53), Emily Boudreaux (32nd, 22:39.60) and Emily Ledet (51st, 25:07.07).

With many younger runners being asked to step, Sauce, a junior, said it made this year's state championships for both teams much sweeter.

"Once we won, it seemed like everyone was a lot more enthusiastic," Sauce said. "But after we both won, it was a sense of relief because we knew we had the edge to repeat as state champions."

Winning state cross country titles is nothing new for E.D. White. The Cardinals have now won 14 state titles, including seven straight from 2002-08, while this year's state championship was the fourth overall for the girls team.

Grabert said credit for E.D. White's overall success at the state meet goes to former coach Eddie Cole, who is currently the head coach at Episcopal-Baton Rouge.

"Coach Cole established a real good base in cross country over here," Grabert said. "When he left, he had won six in a row, and now we are establishing a new tradition here."

But to keep E.D. White's new tradition going, the boys team had to following the Lady Cardinals lead, who had won their second straight a few hours earlier.

Turner said the girls win was the perfect motivation the boys team needed for its race.

"After the girls won, it definitely boosted our morale going into the race," he said. "It made us feel like we could do it too. It was there for us, so we just went out there and took it."

With both teams having back-to-back state titles in the books, E.D. White can turn its attention to winning three straight. Grabert said he believes the teams have enough talent returning to make that happen.

"I think if we work hard, we can compete with anybody," he said. "I know our runners will be better, and we will give it a shot like everybody else."