Shortly after finishing the first cross country race of her high school career in September, Albany’s Cayden Boudreaux said one of her goals was to become a state champion.
Fast forward to Tuesday’s Class 3A state meet, and it’s a reality.
Boudreaux, a freshman, won the individual state title, finishing in 18:57.7 on the campus of Northwestern State University.
“I’m just taking it all in right now,” Boudreaux said with a laugh. “It feels great.”
Olivia McGoey of Sacred Heart of New Orleans finished second (19:11.9) followed by Abbey Marie Ratcliff of E.D. White (19:23.0), and Boudreaux said it helped having competed against McGoey in the Northshore Metro Meet earlier this month.
“It kind of let me know who I had to look out for and who I had to stay with or when I needed to step it up,” Boudreaux, the Livingston Parish girls champion, said.
“I started out fast,” Boudreaux continued. “My first mile was good. I kind of slipped out of it though, and I kept looking back. That’s a bad habit, but that’ll stop, I guess. On the second mile, I felt that I was good, trying to keep my lead up.”
Albany coach John Legoira said the Metro race was also a measuring stick for Boudreaux heading into the state meet.
“The race she ran last week when she faced the girl from Sacred Heart that won it last year, and she won it by a good margin, I kind of figured, she turned the corner,” Legoria said of Boudreaux. “That first (practice) race at the beginning of the year was the best thing that happened to her when she got beat and didn’t run a quality time at all, and it really focused her for the rest of the season.”
Another plus was that Boudreaux walked and ran the course over the summer and also watched other races state championship races in Natchitoches on Monday.
“I kind of got a feel for it before, and I knew where I was going to go,” Boudreaux said.
“It helps my strategy. It helps me pace myself because I know actually know where I’m going …”
Boudreaux’s effort was part of an eighth-place team finish for Albany, with A’mya Taylor finishing 34th (22:16.2), Emma Fuller 42nd (23:09.7), Kayla Lanassa 57th (24:26.9), Macy Thibodeaux 116th (34:31.8) and Rylie McDonald 121st (39.22.9).
Boudreaux and Legoria praised the team effort.
“I’m pretty sure this is probably the only Albany team that’s ever competed at state, and for our first time, for us to finish eighth with the competition that we go against, it’s pretty special for those girls,” Legoria said.
“As a team everybody came out and everybody was focused from the beginning,” Boudreaux said. “Everybody supported each other and everybody was just ready to run. Our team, we just have fun. That’s how we run. We all support each other no matter what place your in or anything. I thought we all did and all did our job.”
E.D. White won the team title with 38 points, followed by Sacred Heart (64) and St. Louis (70).
Legoria is also looking toward the future – not only for Boudreaux but for the Albany program.
“If I know her, she wants to win it (state championship) four times and probably get a college scholarship out of it,” Legoria said. “That’s her focus. She’s going to do whatever she’s got to do to improve each and every year. We’re going to pick up a few girls from the junior high that are really good, too, so I think every year from this point on, we should inch up closer to the top (in the team standings).”