Total team efforts propel Ruston XC to district titles

Ruston’s cross country teams both brought home district titles in district 2-5A this past week in dominating fashion with the boys winning with a score of 18 (Pineville finished second with 71) and the girls winning with a score of 19 (Alexandria finished second with 61).

Head coach Dustin Cochran was beyond pleased with both squads and how they competed to bring home the championships.

“Ruston high cross country is a team first sport,” Cochran said. “We have the low sticks at the front that win most every race they run in, but what makes us a really good team is our depth. The district meet yesterday showed that, with 11 boys finishing in the top 16, and 8 girls finishing in the top 10.”

Senior Caleb Babineaux and junior Lily Garrett both finished first place in their respective races. For the girls, Ruston finished ahead of Alexandria, West Monroe and West Ouachita. The boys finished over Pineville, Alexandria, West Ouachita, West Monroe and Ouachita Parish.

Babineaux finished first (15:19.51), while sophomore Thomas Rogers finished second (15:35.40). Senior Nelson Blackburn came in fourth (15:59.08) and junior Bryar Madden finished fifth overall at 16:07.08. Junior Andrew McKaskle rounded out the scorers sixth overall with a time of 16:10.14.

Rounding out the top ten for Ruston’s boys were sophomore Landon Byrd (7th, 16:17.49), senior John Davis Vessel (9th, 16:38.60), and junior Cole Maestrini (10th, 16:47.39).

For the girls, Garrett finished first (18:13.75) while Anna Naff comes in third at 19:27.37. Parker Nations (4th, 19:30.78), Sydney Owens (5th, 19:53.44), and Zoie Holstead (6th, 20:06.38) rounded out Ruston’s scorers. Sara Naff finished seventh at 2.0:12.40).

Cochran highlighted other finishers for the teams, as well, noting that Abby Edgerton finished in the Top 10 with a PR of 20:42.67 despite this only being her first year running. Marina Givens followed her at 21:00.89.

“She really pushed herself to make a jump, Cochran said. “She’s never finished among the top finishers, and I told her she would need to run under 21 minutes.”

For Cochran, he celebrated the total team effort for some of the non-scorers who worked hard for their finishes.

“Jeff Weatherford, Cole Magee, and John Madix exemplify what we’re about,” Cochran said. “They’re not in our top 7 scorers, but they come to meets like this and absolutely run great. It’s a reflection of their commitment and dedication. Edgerton and Parker Nations are two freshman who are doing the same thing, They’re getting better day in and day out; they’re doing the right things, and their results are starting to show all the work they’ve put in.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Dr. Amy Vessel