The glance said it all. After an early season workout, St. John the Baptist cross country coach David Wood and his assistant coach and daughter, Melissa Garcia, looked at each other and — as fathers and daughters sometimes do — had the same thought.
This is going to be fun.
The last few seasons have been filled with near misses in CHSAA competition. Most recently, the Cougars fell by a fraction of a point in the spring track and field league championships, something they thought they had won until a scorer’s error was found within an hour of the championship plaque being awarded.
But this well-aged and ready-to-win group saw that salty luck ended Saturday when the Cougars won the team title at the CHSAA cross country league championships at Sunken Meadow State Park. The Cougars scored 43 points. St. Anthony’s was second with 56.
It is the first time the boys team has won the CHSAA league championship since 1971, Wood said.
“They’ve been fighting for this recognition for a long time,” he said. “It’s a terrific feeling to have the team recognized for how hard they’re working.”
SJB’s Patrick Kain won the 5-kilometer race in 17 minutes, 4.85 seconds. Chaminade’s Patrick Conklin was second in 17:06.49. Conklin’s teammate, Connor Fitzpatrick, was third in 17:11.42.
“We had a great race plan going in, and he followed it,” Wood said. “The whole league went out pretty slow for the first 1,200 meters. Patrick just looked at me and smiled. He knew that played into his hands as he was going up Snake [Hill]. He was just starting to make his move when he was going up Snake.”
Kain waited until the daunting Cardiac Hill to finally make his move toward victory, taking advantage of the steep downhill.
“There’s three parts to Cardiac,” Kain said. “The first two, you just have to keep control and the last one you just have to get up. Most people, once they get on top of Cardiac, they’re always so tired. But I always tell myself that once I get to the top, there’s a downhill. The downhill is going to help me, I just have to go down it.”
Once on the downhill, Kain can really accelerate.
“I just let my legs go and they just roll,” Kain said. “I can go really fast.”
That didn’t mean he had a clear path to victory, though. Conklin tried to move past him as the two entered the moat, but the St. John’s junior would have none of it.
“[Conklin] started picking up the pace a lot,” Kain said. “Once we got over the bridge, it came down to whoever had more in them.”
Sacred Heart freshman Maggie Maier won the girls race in 20:30.25. St. John the Baptist’s Hailey Marcello was second in 20:46.48. Kellenberg’s Maureen Ann Lewin was third in 20:53.68.
Kellenberg won the girls team title with 31 points, their third straight league title, coach Marty Brown said. Sacred Heart was second with 62.