By Kyle Roberts
It had been nearly three weeks since Ruston High’s cross country had run an official race.
They more than made up for it this weekend, with good showings at both the Southlake #2 XC Invite in Texas on Saturday and the Cedar Creek Wallace Martin Invitational in Ruston on Friday.
The Bearcats totaled 140 points (6+7+31+46+50 (71+75)) for fifth in the Elite Boys run and third in the Open Boys run with 95 points (7+9+19+29+31).
“Texas is a different animal when it comes to racing, so we went over with the intention of going out hard early in the race and seeing where we’re at at this point of the season,” Ruston head coach Dustin Cochran said. “Thomas (Rogers) and Taylor (Roller) ran amazing in the front to lead our team. I think both of them went in nervous because they’ve never had to run this fast before, but they both walked away saying I can definitely go faster. They ran times that not many people from Louisiana have ever run, and we were still able to cut our 1-5 spread by over 30s in comparison to what we did in Mississippi.
“So as a team we are really happy with where we are to end September, but our eyes are on November. We will celebrate this one, but next week we will get back to work and make sure we’re even better come November.”
On Friday, Ruston’s girls took fourth overall, while the boys finished tenth.
“We’re still running without three of our best runners, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Cochran said about the girls squad. “We had some huge PRs from Emmersyn and Aydan this weekend. I think when we look up in November, this girls team will be a very competitive team. We had a time average goal that we wanted to beat based on the group we had running this weekend, and we absolutely shattered it.
“Right now, we aren’t the state trophy contenders we want to be, but we still have a Bearcat on our chest, and the standard is still high. This group of girls is making strides in the right direction every day, and as we go along and fine tune things throughout the season, it should turn out pretty good.”
For the boys, it was runners that did not compete at the Southlake #2 XC meet that competed at Lincoln Parish Park.
“I’m beyond proud of the group of guys we had running at Cedar Creek this weekend,” Cochran said. “Every one of these guys ran substantially faster than they did at the opener three weeks ago. All of these guys are young and haven’t done a lot of racing, so I was very impressed with some of the times they threw down on Saturday.
“Wyatt Hancock had an enormous PR. Wyatt didn’t run cross country in junior high and ran just under 22 minutes in the opener. He’s learning every day and figuring out that he can run fast. I don’t want to say I was surprised at all he cut three minutes off his last race time, because I’ve seen it all in practice. I can’t wait to see how this group improves as they go along this season.”
Ruston will return to action Saturday, Sept. 30, in Baton Rouge for the St. Joseph’s Invitational.
Southlake #2 XC Invite 2023 Results
6 – Thomas Rogers 14:57
7 – Taylor Roller 14:57
34 – Landon Byrd 15:48
50 – Al-Amin Wilson 16:08
55 – Joshua Daulton 16:11
83 – Liam Lowe 16:55
87 – Taylor Huddleston 17:06
7 – Tyler Roller 16:32
9 – Cole Magee 16:36
19 – Preston Parker 17:01
29 – Ben Boudreaux 17:15
31 – Noah Holland 17:17
Cedar Creek Wallace Martin Invitational
7 – Parker Nations 19:25
11 – Zoie Holstead 19:54
16 – Hallie Hebert 20:08
32 – Emmersyn Nations 21:19
83 – Aydan Murry 24:28
129 – Diana Santos 28:31
23 – Dawson Baker 17:38
31 – Josiah Finley 18:01
60 – Wyatt Hancock 18:47
70 – Tylor Huddleston 19:14
92 – Tate Hammond 19:49
95 – Charlie Rufleth 19:55
109 – Drake Purvis 20:23
145 – Eli Watson 21:55