I’ve been photographing
LHSAA cross country state meets since 2003, and I associate each one with a certain theme. I’ll remember 2003 for Brett
Guidry’s sophomore championship. 2004 will be recalled as the year that Jonathan Thomas scored his upset victory, defeating
both Guidry and Andy Florek in the 5A race. 2005 is the year of that classic meet, when Katrina evacuee Brett Guidry returned
to Louisiana three months after the storm and regained his title. 2006 is the year when a misguided LHSAA official physically
blocked lead runners Ben Kilpatrick and Nick Breaux from heading toward the finish line, thinking they had yet another lap
to go, and costing them shots at the 2A title. 2007 is the year that the Brother Martin Crusaders knocked off the mighty Jesuit
Blue Jays and ended their four year reign of dominance in the LHSAA. Now, 2008 will be remembered for Philip Primeaux’s
5A victory and the reemergence of the Catholic High Bears as a state power in cross country.
However, there is a subtext
to the 2008 story, and it involves a myriad of officiating errors. True, none are as traumatic as 2006’s Kilpatrick/Breaux
official blockade; the 2008 snafus don’t influence the outcome of any races, but they do dramatically affect the reporting
of those outcomes. The most egregious example occurred in the 1A race, when the championship was reversed due to a “clerical
error.” This all has to do with some new and nonsensical rule stating that runners who finish the race after the 25
minute mark will not have their points counted. It seems as though the Country Day Cajuns were originally announced as 1A
champions. The kids on the St. Martin’s Saints, the presumptive runners-up, reportedly went ballistic; there was much
tsk-tsking about their “poor sportsmanship” until it became obvious that the St. Martin’s runners actually
understood the 25-minute rule better than the officials charged with implementing it, and the boys just did the math. Thus,
the championship was then taken from Country Day and given to St. Martin’s. I‘m glad that St. Martin‘s didn‘t
get cheated out of the title, but there also seems to be something cold-blooded about inflating, then deflating, the pride
of high school athletes. You don’t say, “Congratulations, you’ve just won the state championship,”
then come back with, “Ummmmmm…no. We screwed up. Wait till next year, guys.”
Of course, there’s
more. The 5A results are currently being treated like the returns from the Minnesota senatorial race. Go to the LHSAA official
site, and you’ll see, “DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, BOYS 5A STATE RESULTS WILL NOT BE POSTED UNTIL FURTHER REVIEW.”
Catholic High fans, don’t worry. The controversy presumably involves runners who finished after the 100th
spot, so there’s little chance that the state title will be moved from Baton Rouge back to New Orleans.
I used “2002 Redux”
as a banner headline on this site’s home page to herald the 2008 Brother Martin victory. This year, I could have used
“2001 Redux” in honor of the Catholic High victory, but I didn’t want to seem redundant. I could have also
done a “Seven Year Itch” theme, complete with a Marilyn Monroe background, but I didn’t want to seem obnoxious.
I hope you Catholic High runners enjoy the home page I did create, and I’ll be posting a gallery shortly.
My apologies go out to
this year’s 2A competitors. I left the house at 6:45 a.m., and I thought I’d have plenty of time to make it to
your 11:20 a.m. race, but the Baton Rouge morning rush hour traffic I encountered en route fouled up my plans and I couldn’t
make it. I really regret that. 2A is one of my favorites, and the Episcopal Knights dynasty (the longest in the LHSAA) is
Congratulations to Andrew
Lessig of Archbishop Shaw, third place finisher in the 4A competition. I’ve been photographing Andrew for three seasons,
and it was nice to see him have his day in the sun. In fact, congratulations to all of the team and individual title winners.
Also, to those who came up short, just remember, “It’s not whether you win or lose that counts; it’s how
you look in the photos.” (I think Vince Lombardi said that.) ~Paparazzo
The top ten in
a 2008 5A field of 283 finishers. Front row: third place finisher Alden Heaphy of the St. Thomas More Cougars, 2008 5A Champion
Philip Primeaux of the Catholic High Bears, second place finisher Paul Arthur of the Walker Wildcats. Back row: tenth place
finisher Chase Menard of the South Terrebone Gators, ninth place finisher Matthew Pieri of the Brother Martin Crusaders, eighth
place finisher Scott Richardson of the Brother Martin Crusaders, seventh place finisher Kyle Steele of the Walker Wildcats,
sixth place finisher Matt Mouton of St. Paul's Wolves, fifth place finisher Zach France of the Slidell Tigers, and fourth
place finisher Matthew Rice of the Catholic High Bears.