Congratulations to the Brother Martin Cross Country team. On Friday, the team defended its Region III-5A title for the fourth year in a row. They placed five runners in the top 8 to score 23 points. Senior Abe Bernstein claimed the individual title running 15:50. This is the first sub-16 performance of his career. Finishing not far behind for the runner-up spot was junior Gary Sandrock. Also scoring for the harriers were Ethan Dupas in 5th, Laden Batson in 7th, and Landon Sequeira in 8th. The team scored 23 points to beat the next best finisher by 52 points.
Many high school cross country teams have a clear No. 1 runner, a lead finisher against whom the other runners can pace themselves.
That is not the case for Brother Martin.
Instead, the Crusaders have a team that has a different runner leading the pack in just about every race.
That proved to be the case Friday at the Region 3-5A regional meet in City Park, where Brother Martin had five of the top eight finishers to continue its strong push toward the LHSAA Class 5A state meet on Nov. 19 in Natchitoches.
This was far different from the senior laden team of last season that was paced by Hunter Appleton '19, a state champion who runs cross country and track at the University of Colorado.
“When you have a No. 1 you rely on, lots of times guys can feed off him, like ‘all right, I know where I am,’ ” said Brother Martin coach Drew Haro '03, whose team placed second at the state meet last year. “But I think I like the swapping around (of lead finishers). I think it promotes teamwork.”
One week after Brother Martin won a fourth consecutive District 9-5A team championship with sophomore Landon Sequeira as the team’s top finisher, the Crusaders won Friday with senior Abe Bernstein as the three-mile race winner in 15 minutes, 50 seconds.
Teammate Gary Sandrock, a junior, finished second as the Crusaders placed five scoring runners among the top eight finishers for a 23-point total that had them well ahead of second-place Jesuit (75 points).
“We knew we needed to stay in the front as a pack and we were going to make a move by the end,” said Bernstein, who trailed a lead runner from Curtis for about the first mile before he and Sandrock moved to the front.
Hope Shales of Mount Carmel won the girls race in 18:08. The Cubs had five scoring runners among the top nine finishers for a score of 25 points, not far ahead of Dominican with 30 points.
Shales finished 48 seconds ahead of the next runner. Without another runner around to measure herself against, Shales will sometimes tap her wrist in the direction of another coach to get a reading of her time.
A 10th-place finisher on a muddy course at the state meet last season, Shales has high hopes for her return to the course at Northwestern State.
“Last year it was rough because the course was really flooded with ankle-deep water, basically,” she said. “So I wound up running in the 20(-minute range). If it’s good weather, then it’s a good course.”
Team training for the season began June 1, coach Casey Kaiser said. Since then, he saw the makings of what could be a special team.
“This is one of the strongest teams I’ve seen since I was a coach,” said Kaiser, a fourth-year head coach whose team placed fifth at state last year.
Team state qualifiers (top 8): 1. Brother Martin 23 points; 2. Jesuit 75; 3. Holy Cross 87; 4. John Curtis 102; 5. Shaw 159; 6. Central Lafourche 176; 7. Rummel 198; 8. Hahnville 199.
Individual state qualifiers (top 25): 1. Abe Bernstein, Brother Martin 15:50; 2. Gary Sandrock, BM 16:02; 3. Alex Keller, John Curtis 16:11; 4. Justin Unger, Curtis 16:12; 5. Ethan Dupas, BM 16:16; 6. Luke LaCour, Jesuit 16:16; 7. Laden Baton, BM 16:17; 8. Landon Sequeira, BM 16:33; 9. Lyric Lee, Holy Cross 16:38; 10. Luke Sweatman, Thibodaux 16:40; 11. Merritt Pecoraro, BM 16:42; 12. Gabriel Hodson, Central Lafourche 16:45; 13. Donovan Musser, JES 16:48; 14. Everett Planchet, Holy Cross 16:50; 15. Aeric Wender, JES 16:50; 16. Dylon Simon, Curtis 16:51; 17. Skyler Madison, Holy Cross 16:53; 18. Tharon Blanchard, Holy Cross 16:55; 19. Thomas Monier, Shaw 16:56; 20. Robert Buisson, Jesuit 16:56; 21. Griffin Winn, Jesuit 16:57; 22. Kaden McLaughlin, Rummel 16:57; 23. Patrick Dowd, Jesuit 16:59; 24. Beau Melancon, Hahnville 17:00; 25. Brennan Savoie, Shaw 17:00.
Team state qualifiers (top 8): 1. Mount Carmel 25 point; 2. Dominican 30; 3. Curtis 104; 4. Chapelle 109; 5. Hahnville 134; 6. Central Lafourche 164; 7. Bourgeois 185; 8. Chalmette 203.
Individual state qualifiers (top 25): 1. Hope Shales, Mt. Carmel 18:08; 2. Kelsey Major, Dominican 18:56; 3. Izzy Dischner, Dominican 19:54; 4. Theresa Falgout, Mt. Carmel 19:58; 5. Emma Meneses, Mt. Carmel 19:59; 6. Ashleigh Gallagher, Mt. Carmel 19:59; 7. Bryce Couvillon, Dominican 20:06; 8. Morgan Trauth, Dominican 20:11; 9. Elizabeth Traylor, Mt. Carmel 20:13; 10. Roma McAlear, Dominican 20:20; 11. Sammi Rogers, Mt. Carmel 20:29; 12. Erin Sequiera, Dominican 20:37; 13. Grace Elvir, Mt. Carmel 20:47; 14. Madison Reado, Curtis 21:18; 15. Katie Hendrick, Chapelle 21:20; 16. Chloe Kurtz, Bourgeois 21:20; 17. Sophia Fernandez, Chapelle 21:35; 18. Laila Jackson, Curtis 21:47; 19. Leah Oddo, Curtis 22:19; 20. Kaydi Manning, Central Lafourche 22:21; 21. Alexandra Aucoin, Hahnville 22:25; 22. Alyssa Hernandez, Chalmette 22:27; 23. Madison Arabie, Hahnville 22:28; 24. Jaqueline Salas, Chapelle 22:38; 25. Johanna Muhammad, Terrebonne 22:41.