Primeaux leads Midland to cross country state title

NATCHITOCHES – Midland’s Michael Primeaux was healthy again and for the other contestants in the LHSAA Class B Cross Country Meet Tuesday, that was sickening news.

Primeaux, who struggled to a 25th-place finish a year ago due to an ankle injury, was back in top form Tuesday during the 2011 championships, covering the 3-mile course at Northwestern State University in 16:50.49.

The effort not only gave Primaeaux his third state cross country title in four years, but it also sparked the Rebels to their first cross country title in school history.

“This is just a great feeling,” said Primeaux following the race. “This year, it was even more special because we were able to win the team title as well. It’s my senior year and we finished it up in a great way.”

Primeaux was the favorite to win the individual title and it showed from the beginning. He started out battling with Anacoco’s Sam Turnipseed for the early lead, but after the first mile, it was evident that Primeaux was on his way to the title, putting distance between he and Turnipseed.

“Michael ran well and we were hoping for that,” said MHS coach Todd Briley. “He was good right out of the gate. He was going toe-to-toe with the kid from Anacoco, but he broke that guy after the first mile and from then on, he wasn’t pushed real hard at all.

“You know, Michael is a hard worker and he has done a lot of running. But his biggest strength is his toughness and his heart. He just doesn’t stop.”

Primeaux’s third cross country title gives him a total of seven state championships heading into the 2012 outdoor season. He won 3200-meter title in 2008 before winning it again, along with the 1600-meter crown in 2009. Last year, he battled through injury to win the 1600 again.

He was one of five Midland runners to finish in the top 15 at NSU, which was the key to the Rebels winning the overall title.

Senior Cody Stutes was next with a breakout performance, finishing fifth overall in a time of 17:28.08.

That performance is one that both Briley and Primeaux said was pivotal.

“I was really pleased with Cody Stutes,” said Briley. “He really stepped up. I wasn’t expecting a performance like that out of him. That was definitely one of the highlights of his career so far. Hopefully, that leads to things down the road for him.”

Primeaux agreed.

“I was surprised with Cody,” said Primeaux. “That was one of the best races I’ve seen him run.”

Another key to the victory were the efforts turned in by senior Chase Vincent (18:12.52), sophomore Jake Gautreaux (18:17.50) and freshman Floyd Baker (18:21.26). That trio finished 10th-12th.

“That was huge too, that 10, 11 and 12,” said Briley. “That was the plan going in. Choudrant had won it (title) like eight years in a row and Anacoco had beat us in a meet earlier this year so we kind of set up close to those guys. We figured Monkey (Primeaux) would win and we knew the rest of our guys had to stay up in the front of the pack. We knew we had to beat more of those guys than they beat us.

“We just had to know where they (Choudrant and Anacoco) were and whoever was up there, we had to do what it took to be in front of them.”

Alan Vondenstein also scored for the Rebels, finishing at No. 32 with a time of 19:23.54. Steven Primeaux was No. 71 at (21:14.08).

Midland’s team title is their first since reinstating their cross country program four years ago after nearly a 20-year hiatus. The Rebels finished fourth in 2008, second in 2009 and fifth last year.

“This is really big for us,” said Briley. “We’ve been right there before so it was really big for us to kind of get over that hump. We have three seniors (Primeaux, Stutes and Vincent) that have been real close and it was really exciting to go out there and win the whole thing.”

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