By Kyle Roberts
For Ruston Cross Country head coach Dusty Cochran, 2022 is an excellent opportunity to continue to build a powerhouse state program after terrific success last season.
“Every year we try to find ways to improve our team,” Cochran said. “We’ve had a good bit of success the last couple of years. We’ve had two 5A state runner up teams, two individual state champions, and two Gatorade players of the year.”
Defending state champion Lily Garrett returns for Ruston High for the girls. She’s expected to be healthy to start the cross country season for RHS after dealing with some injuries during last track season.
“She’s been able to put some great work in this fall,” Cochran said. “She’s also learning a lot about leadership this season and has done a great job leading the girls this summer.”
Outside of state champion Garrett, Cochran is expecting to see great things from sophomore Parker Nations.
“(Nations) ran 11:24 in our time trial last weekend,” Cochran said. “That time would’ve finished second behind Garrett at the outdoor state meet last May. So, we’re really excited to possibly have two girls who could really make some noise in November.”
For the boys, Cochran acknowledged that the group put in a lot of work over the summer and is seeing a pay off in improved time trials.
“They ran more miles than we ever have by far,” Cochran said. “Last weekend we ran a 2-mile time trial and our top 5 boys averaged 9:50. Last year in the same time trial, we averaged 10:15. It’s hard to say who will lead the boys team in meets this year. Our team has been full of great leadership this summer and everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to competing and getting better. They’re showing up every day with the right attitude. Consistency and a tighter pack will be our keys to success this season.”
Cochran noted that senior Bryar Madden, junior Thomas Rogers, sophomore TJ Hill and freshman Joshua Daulton and will all be Bearcat runners to keep an eye on this season.
The boy’s team lost Caleb Babineaux to graduation, who is now running for Mississippi College. In fact, Ruston gets to open the season Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Mississippi College Opener in Clinton, Miss. Cochran said he was excited to see a couple of Ruston alums running at the collegiate level with Babineaux and Anna Naff both running in the collegiate division. 2020 state champion Dyllon Nimmers, also a Ruston alum, opens his season for LSU at the UNO Invitational.
Added Cochran: “We’re looking forward to a great weekend from all Bearcat runners, both past and present.”
September 3rd: MC The Opener, Clinton, MS (V/JV)
September 17th: 2022 ULM Warhawk Invitational, Monroe, LA (V/JV)
September 24th: Garmin Milesplit TX Invitational, Denton, TX (V)
September 24th: Cedar Creek Wallace Martin Invitational, Ruston, LA (JV)
October 15th: Lake Hamilton Invitational, Hot Springs, AR (V/Freshmen)
October 27th: North LA Championships, Monroe, LA (V/JV)
November 3rd: Region 1 Div 1 Championships, Ruston, LA (Top 7/JV)
November 14th: LHSAA XC State Championships, Natchitoches, LA (Top 7)
November 19th: Nike Cross South Regionals, The Woodlands, TX
December 3rd: Garmin RunningLane Nationals, Huntsville, AL
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