Berwick sophomore Neal Theriot Jr. got the best of Patterson senior Jonathan Jeffcoat at district.
Jeffcoat came out on top between the two at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships on Nov. 13.
Regardless, though, both earned All-State honors as they finished in the top 10 in Class 3A and set personal bests.
Jeffcoat finished seventh with a time of 17:08, while Theriot finished not far behind in 10th with a time of 17:12.78.
Both shattered their personal best by 54 seconds, too.
At state, Theriot also broke the Berwick school record set by Bryce Mayon.
Their finish at state was fitting, considering Theriot said the duo finished "30 of each other" at the different races they competed.
Both said they were surprised by their finishes.
“I had trained really hard leading up to state … I was kind of expecting to do better than I did at district, but not that well,” Jeffcoat said.
He said he was expecting around 18 flat, not near 17 flat.
Theriot attributed his performance to both the weather conditions and a desire to stay with the leaders.
“The weather conditions really helped,” he said. “It was cooler … You could breathed a lot better. I think that really helped getting (my time) down.”
Patterson coach Susan Tregle heaped all the credit on Jeffcoat.
“He’s a hard worker … He just takes it upon himself to do well,” she said. “He excels in the classroom and in running.”
While of course proud, Berwick cross country coach Camille Izaguirre said she “felt bad” because early on, she was “pessimistic” after seeing how Theriot was laboring.
“At the half-mile mark … I could see his face, and he was just pushing so hard, and I thought ‘man, he took off too fast,’ but he kept that pace and when I saw him on the track coming in and he was No. 10, I couldn’t believe it and his time, I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Izaguirre said she knew Theriot had the ability to beat 18 flat, “but we never thought it would be 17:12. He had an amazing day, it was the state meet, he was pumped and it was perfect weather. It was cool, but the sun was out ... He ran the state meet last year, so he knew the course, so everything was in his favor.”
Tregle called it “amazing” that both schools, within miles apart, had runners place in the top 10 at state.
Izaguirre said, “We are so proud of him (Jeffcoat) … We cheer for him like we cheer for our own.”
Both received some collegiate attention after the meet from University of New Orleans cross country coach Ty Sevin, who attended Berwick High.
Sevin said he would be watching Theriot in the future and gave Jeffcoat a questionnaire and said he would like to have him run at the University of New Orleans.
Jeffcoat said he also has talked to the University of Louisiana at Monroe track and cross country coach and was set to visit there Monday.
Tregle said with Jeffcoat’s 3.9 grade point average and 29 on his ACT, he is receiving academic attention from colleges.
“Options are going to be there for him no matter what,” she said.
Other Berwick runners participating in the state meet included sophomore Andre Adams, who recorded the squad’s second-fasted time at 19:22.35. He finished in 54th place.
“It was also a big boost for his ego that he did so well because he has really been focusing a lot on his running this season and his mom told me he’s all into eating right … He’s really taken a lot more interest this year than he did last year as a freshman and it has paid off,” Izaguirre said. “So it was a good day for him.”
Jason Cavalier, Berwick’s lone senior, finished 57th with a time of 19:33.26.
“He did well,” Izaguirre said. “He would push himself. He ran all summer to be ready. He had work, so he always had to balance running and work, but he did well. He was proud of himself and we were too.”
Other Berwick finishers included sophomore Cameron Perera, 58th, at 19:36.59; freshman Austin Doise, 62nd at 19:49.96; and sophomore Ryan Davidson also completed the race in 23:01.78.
In Class 1A, Central Catholic’s Sal Grizzaffi, who had finished runner-up at the district meet, finished in 20th place at 18.19.82 during Monday’s action.
Other Central Catholic competitors included freshman William Hunter, who clocked in at 33:22.02, while teammate and seventh-grader Jack Autrey clocked in at 36:03.87.
Ascension Catholic sophomore Zach Capello won the race in 16:01.41.
In girls’ Class 1A competition, Central Catholic junior Carley Gravois completed the three-mile run with a time of 36:36.13 on Monday.