HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Even the best-laid plans sometimes hit a snag. For De La Salle Collegiate cross-country coach Sandy Buchanan and her Pilots, visiting Detroit Catholic Central proved to be much more than just a snag Tuesday afternoon at Lake St. Clair Metropark.
With a share of the Catholic League Central Division championship on the line, the Pilots came out a bit flat, falling to the league-favorite Shamrocks, 17-44, on their home course.
"They came in really flat," admitted Buchanan, who had hoped her team would carry forward the momentum it gained after a fifth-place finish at the Hanson's Invite on Saturday. "They came in focusing on the heat, how long their day was, and not on their race."
Understanding her team had a tall order in front of it, Buchanan had given her runners goals, or jobs, to tackle. If the Pilots wanted a chance at winning the dual meet, they would have to place three in the top six and six among the top 12 finishers. But at the halfway mark of the race, Catholic Central had 11 of the top 12.
The hole was just too much for De La Salle to climb out of.
The Shamrocks were led by senior Luke Perelli, a state medalist from a year ago. He finished far ahead of the field in a time of 16:46. The next two to cross the finish line were also from Catholic Central. Seniors Alex Dugas and Mitchel Horn finished in 17:11 and 17:23 to seal the victory for their team.
De La Salle junior Andrew Renaud finished fourth overall to lead his team. His time of 17:44 was 10 seconds ahead of Catholic Central freshman Matthew Atkinson, who was fifth. Cooper Buckley finished sixth overall - for the Shamrocks, rounding out their score.
Senior Zachary Jarski was the second Pilot (seventh overall) to finish. His time was 18:17. The other three De La Salle runners to score were junior Preston Earl (13th), sophomore Peyton Ross (16th), and freshman Brayds Vielle (19th).
Buchanan expressed some concern over her team's performance, suggesting her team will have to find a way to put this meet behind it and hopefully learn a thing or two.
"I've always used the baking analogy," the coach said. "Every race is an ingredient to get to the regional. When you come to these (meets), there's something technique-wise, something timing-wise, or something pacing-wise that you can work on. Those are all ingredients that go into the recipe to get you to the regional.
"If you don't take something from each race and learn from it and build upon it, then you get to the regional and you're waiting for that cake to come out of the oven and it's flat. You've forgotten that one ingredient."
With the win, Catholic Central finished 4-0 in the league and won the Central Division championship. Brother Rice finished second (3-1), followed by the Pilots (2-2).
DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL 17, DE LA SALLE 44
INDIVIDUALS (each team's top seven): 1. Luke Perelli, CC, 16:46; 2. Alexander Dugas, CC, 17:11; 3. Mitchel Horn, CC, 17:23; 4. Andrew Renaud, DLS, 17:44; 5. Matthew Atkinson, CC, 17:54; 6. Cooper Buckley, CC, 18:07; 7. Zachary Jarski, DLS, 18:17; 8. Brett Leidal, CC, 18:28; 9. Nick Dewhirst, CC, 18:29; 10. Preston Earl, DLS, 18:36; 11. Peyton Ross, DLS, 18:54; 12. Brayds Vielle, DLS, 19:00; 13. Thomas Lanzi, DLS, 19:01; 14. Nicholas Schmidt, DLS, 19:05