NATCHITOCHES, La. — In the final race of the postseason for Ruston’s cross country teams, the girls took second place overall while the boys took third place in the Ochsner Health LHSAA D1 State Championship at Northwestern State Monday morning.
“I’m extremely extremely proud of both this boys and girls team,” Ruston head coach Dustin Cochran said. “I’ve been saying it, but if you named something that could go wrong in a season, it did. These kids never wavered. They rolled right through their teammates being sick. They embraced the challenge of being great every single day.”
The girls took second place overall with a score of 77 points (2+11+12+17+35 (43+49)) while the boys took third place overall with 92 points (10+17+20+21+24 (52+64)).
For the girls’ team, it was the final cross country race for senior Lily Garrett as she has signed to compete collegiately with the University of Tennessee.
“Last month was the first month in a year she’s been near completely healthy, and her races showed it,” Cochran said. “District champ, regional champ, and state runner up. We’ve found a way to battle through it all, even with the bullseye on her back from last year. She’s a heck of a competitor and a true Bearcat.”
On the boys’ side, Cochran highlighted senior Andrew McKaskle finish this year as he will run for UL-Lafayette next season.
“This team is full of champions,” Cochran said. “McKaskle’s season has been something from a movie; he hasn’t been healthy since the end of September. First bronchitis, then the flu. He’s ran maybe seven days in the past month and a half. That guy came out today and ran like his life depended on it. He worked for three miles straight today and gave us the fifth man we needed to finish with the best catholic schools. This guy is the epitome of what it means to be a Bearcat and represent Ruston. It’s not about the name on the back of the jersey with him or this team; it’s about the name on the front.”
Freshman Taylor Roller also had an excellent day Monday and finished as the fastest freshman in the state with a time of 15:59.90.
“He made the all state composite team (top 25 when all classes are combined),” Cochran said. “He’s the first Ruston boy to accomplish this as a freshman since Hunter Carswell, all the way back in 2001.”
Official times for Ruston finishers are as follows:
Lily Garrett 2nd (18:10)
Sara Naff 13th (19:03)
Parker Nations 14th (19:19)
Sydney Owens 19th (19:39)
Zoie Holstead 40th (20:35)
Hallie Hebert 48th (20:58)
Maddy Parkman 56th (21:14)
Thomas Rogers 10th (15:37)
Taylor Roller 18th (15:59)
Bryar Madden 23rd (16:19)
Landon Byrd 24th (16:20)
Andrew McKaskle 27th (16:25)
Liam Lowe 59th (17:11)
Joshua Daulton 73rd (17:27)
The results from the day were the perfect way to encapsulate the season for Cochran, and he expressed his excitement for the years to come for his cross country program.
“This team has been so together this year,” Cochran said. “We’ve really laid a foundation for years to come, in my opinion. Young kids can join this program and find an immediate family. There was so much growth from so many people this year. So many kids became better people. I’d wager that this team taught me more than I taught them, and I look forward to using what I’ve learned to make them an even better team in the future. I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids this season.”