BATON ROUGE – For two years they were training partners with Live Oak’s Justin Peters usually getting the best of Nic Broderick.
Peters established the bar by which all of the program’s cross country runners will be judged, graduating last year with the school’s record in the three-mile event.
Broderick showed just much those training sessions with Peters paid off, displaying his growth in his final season, wrestling the school mark away from Peters during Saturday’s Catholic High Invitational at Highland Road Park.
Broderick, running on a mostly firm course against top-flight competition, ran 16 minutes, 81 seconds to just to eclipse Peters’ mark of 16:01 and wound up seventh overall.
“I’ve been chasing it for the last two or three years,” Broderick said of the school record. “We were running buddies last year and I was always second, about 10 seconds behind Justin in every race. Beating his school record is for bragging rights to show him I finally got better.”
The school mark for Live Oak’s girls, which was established two weeks ago, was reset by the record holder with freshman Kylie Zeller turning in a 19:21.91 time, shaving 12 seconds off her previous best.
“I aimed for a 19 (minutes),” Zeller said. “I probably could have run faster in the second mile. I was going to go out hard in the first mile and get ahead of everyone. I kind of settled down and then at the end tried to pass as many people as I could to get a higher finish and beat my time.”
Topped by Broderick’s Top 10-finish, Live Oak was 10th in the team standings with 292 points.
Host Catholic High won the meet with 75 points followed by St. Paul’s (114) and Brother Martin (120).
“All the heavy hitters showed up and we just jumped on the wagon and try to keep up,” Live Oak coach Travis Johnson. “They did well. It was the best race of the season for both teams mentally and physically. They were ready and wanted to win.”
Zeller’s time was good for a 12th place finish in a race won by Mary Nuslock (17:56.50) of Sacred Heart-New Orleans.
St. Joseph Academy, with a 2-3-4 finish, was the meet’s champion with 29 points, while Live Oak was eighth with 305.
“This is their best race all year,” Johnson said of his Lady Eagles. “Every one of them probably had a personal best which is awesome.”
With Broderick setting the pace, Live Oak also had five Top-100 finishers in John Wells (64th, 18:06.41), Devin McClendon (67th, 18:10.50), Parker Giering (74th, 18:16.84), Christian Fritz (80th, 18:29.34) and John Dyar (92nd, 18:41.47).
“They showed up and were ready,” Johnson said. “They had something to prove. Every week the (state) polls come out and we keep going lower and lower and they don’t like it.”
With overall winner Hunter Appleton of Brother Martin (15:11.28) setting the pace, Broderick tried to carry out his pre-race strategy of a strong start, holding firm in the middle, and unleash a strong finishing kick.
“He’s just a workhorse,” Johnson said. “He was patient in the first half. Then in the second (half) he just ran them down and let everybody else tire themselves out. It’s harder to lead than it is to follow. He just follows them and picks them apart.”
Broderick said, “I knew there was a lot of people in this race (311 participants), so I went out very hard. I was basically full-out sprinting to get ahead of the pack because I didn’t want to get boxed in.”
Broderick was in 15th place after the first half-mile, moved up a spot after 1 ½ miles before a strong finish over the final half-mile.
“I was in the range to break 16,” he said. “I focused on my form and striding. I tried for a 5:20 on the third mile, and when I saw the clock at 15 (minutes), I was pushing to get the school record.”
Holden’s Coley Courtney (20:35.12) and Hartland Litolff (21:28.12) finished 199th and 223rd, respectively, while Albany’s Drew Thompson (19:04.69) was 122nd and French Settlement’s Trent Martin (24:26.62) was 209th.
Zeller, who relied on a strong finish in her race, was equally excited by the performance of her teammates.
The Lady Eagles had four runners in the Top 100 with Jenna Magee (56th, 21:15.91), Ava Forrest (74th, 22:08.22), Kaitlyn Hall (79th, 22:14.06) and Alaina Griffin (84th, 22:33.34).
Albany’s Amya Taylor (25:28.75) finished 173rd for the Lady Hornets, who were not competing with a full team.
“We get better every time, everybody’s improving,” Zeller said. “No one slack’s off and try to get better.”
Zachary's girls finished 15th with 388 points, while the Broncos were 24th with 684 points. Central's boys were 42nd with 1083, while its girls didn't field a complete team.
The Lady Broncos had four Top-100 finishers with Ashlyn Davis (36th, 20:38.58), Tameron Turner (65th, 21:43.75), Katlyn McDonald (23:04.18).
Top finishers for Zachary's boys were Caleb Franklin (96th, 18:46.44), Luke Dubee (115th, 19:02.84), Caleb Ackman (139th, 19:26.03) and Kyle Knight (161st, 19:44.97).
Central's top finishers among the boys were Caidyn Chaisson (131st, 19:19.12) and Dax Bourque (221st, 21:42.62). Quynlan White (25:56.34) topped the Lady Wildcats with a 186th place finish. She was followed by teammates Marissa Huber (198th, 26:38.6) and Lauren Lindsay (199th, 26:40.44)