Ruston Cross Country: Season review

Photo Credit: Deborah Maestrini

By Kyle Roberts

You may not know it by simply seeing the results of the races, but Ruston High’s cross country team faced quite a year of adversity off the path on its way to competing for the top spots in the state of Louisiana.

Sure, in a year of so many first place finishes for both the boys and girls, it’s easy to overlook what it takes to get a team to that point– and what can get in the way. But Ruston head coach Dustin Cochran was aware of these factors all through this year; particularly with how it affected his boys’ squad.

“In the summertime, I would have told you that our boys team would have been even more stacked than it came out,” Cochran said. “Once people started having weird and unfortunate injuries on top of getting sick, it just didn’t come out that way. In the summer, it looked really good. And then we rolled through a few meets, and it still looked really good. I mean, it still turned out all right, but in the summer, we looked fantastic.”

The results spoke for themselves (and can be found at the bottom of this story) as both Ruston teams placed in the top ten nearly every time the varsity squads laced up shoes.

“You could see all the way back in the summer with the things the kids were saying they wanted to do,” Cochran said of their commitment to excellence. “Anytime you set those big goals for yourself, then you realize that you have to do some things differently. Sometimes that’s hard for kids, because it can be hard for a student to look past the weekend. I was really impressed that all summer a lot of them were able to look at the big picture and keep moving in the right direction. It ended up as well as it could have.”

Individually, senior Lily Garrett turned in a tremendous final act in a cross country Bearcat uniform for Ruston, finishing with multiple first places including in district and regionals. Garrett has officially signed to go run for the University of Tennessee for the Lady Volunteers. On the boys’ side, senior Andrew McKaskle inked his commitment to run for UL-Lafayette, while senior Bryar Madden had a tremendous year with high finishes, as well.

And many of the major contributors to the team will all be continuing running this year with the indoor track season starting in the next calendar year.

For cross country, however, the next season will see a lot of familiar faces returning to the path that will take the success from this season and propel the program continually forward. Ruston certainly reigns atop North Louisiana, and now the mission is to takeover the entire state.

“We’re losing runners like Garret, Madden and McKaskle, and they’ll be missed,” Cochran said. “But the good thing about them is that they got to spend time with the younger ones, and those kids get to take that and do it their own way and possibly even better. At the end of the day, as long as we’ve got Ruston on the shirt, the names on the back are not going to matter as long as everybody stays focused. We’ve got plans moving forward into the next season for how we can compete with some of the South Louisiana schools. In another year or two, we might be really, really good.”

THE OPENER – High School / Middle School 2022
BOYS: 1 (28) [2+5+6+7+8 (10+16)] 0:48 1-5 Split | 16:43 Avg
GIRLS: 1 (36) [1+3+5+8+19 (26+33)] 3:08 1-5 Split | 20:14 Avg (LG 1)

Garmin Milesplit Texas
BOYS: 5 (275) [28+38+46+59+104 (107+146)] 0:54 1-5 Split | 16:42 Avg
GIRLS: 8 (244) [8+17+37+72+110 (144+151)] 2:31 1-5 Split | 20:11 Avg

Lake Hamilton Cross Country Invitational 2022
BOYS: 4 (132) [5+14+28+38+47 (67+98)] 1:37 1-5 Split | 16:51 Avg
GIRLS: 2 (72) [5+7+11+17+32 (83+93)] 2:29 1-5 Split | 20:04 Avg

North LA Championships
BOYS: 1 (28) [2+3+4+5+14 (15+16)] 1:33 1-5 Split | 16:01 Avg
GIRLS: 1 (21) [1+3+4+5+8 (11)] 2:23 1-5 Split | 19:09 Avg

LHSAA D1 – Region 1 2022
BOYS: 1 (35) [1+3+6+7+18 (21+37)] 1:34 1-5 Split | 16:06 Avg
GIRLS: 1 (23) [1+2+4+6+10 (19+20)] 1:49 1-5 Split | 18:55 Avg

Ochsner Health LHSAA D1 State Championship 2022
BOYS: 3 (92) [10+17+20+21+24 (52+64)] 0:47 1-5 Split | 16:08 Avg
GIRLS: 2 (77) [2+11+12+17+35 (43+49)] 2:24 1-5 Split | 19:21 Avg