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Cross country opens season with a third place finish

By Zachary Araki
On September 7, 2017

Track and field and cross country Head Coach Corey Mistretta 

The men’s and women’s cross country teams opened the season by placing third at the New Orleans Invitational.

The meet took place Sept. 1 at Lake Oaks Park. The Lions performed against Louisiana State University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of New Orleans, Southern University and A&M College and Nicholls State University. The men finished third with 61 points while the women finished third with 77 points, both behind LSU and UL Lafayette.

“Both of our teams are young this year, and so we were just kind of feeling this meet out,” said track and field and cross country Head Coach Corey Mistretta. “We weren’t sure how the kids were going to respond as first time regions for many of them. We got two kids on the men’s side that were injured also, so a couple of our better runners did not run. For us to be able to go into that meet and finish third both on the men’s side and the women’s side was really exciting for us. It gives us a shot of encouragement going forward.”

Freshman Adam Cortez placed second with a time of 15 minutes, 27.16 seconds.

“Adam Cortez, of course, he is just young,” said Mistretta. “He’s gonna be really good in our conference. We’re super excited about him. He’s everything we thought he was going to be. He had a chance to win this meet at the UNO race and just kind of started his kick a little too late, wasn’t able to run down the kids from ULL.”

On the women’s side, freshman Tara Stuntz placed sixth with a time of 19 minutes, 4.14 seconds.

“We were encouraged,” said Mistretta. “Tara Stuntz ran super well, and she’s just a racer. She likes to compete. She might not be our best girl on practice day, but whenever we go race, she really likes to go and race. We’re really encouraged by what’s going to happen, and I think their chemistry is going to help them to perform really well this year.”

Sophomore Grant O’Callaghan and freshman Jonathan Respress did not compete due to injuries but are expected to return for the LSU Invitational.

“Grant was our number one runner last year, and Jon Respress was one of our top recruits this year from Atlanta, Georgia,” said Mistretta. “Both of those guys will be in the lineup in two weeks, so I think it will be a whole lot different look than what we had this past week at UNO. I feel like they could go and give both LSU and ULL a run for their money, so it’s gonna be exciting.”

Mistretta discussed the team dynamic as the season starts.

“Both on the men’s and the women’s side, they’re really coming together as a group just like you would expect,” said Mistretta. “Distance runners are always a unique group that kind of have this family atmosphere about them all the time, and this group is no different.”

Mistretta shared his thoughts on being the track and field and cross country head coach this season.

“It’s super humbling to have this opportunity to lead this team that 33 years ago I was given the opportunity to be a part of as a high school kid,” said Mistretta. “Now, to come in and have this opportunity to lead a team is really exciting.”

According to Mistretta, no significant changes are set to follow the position change.

“It’s no different,” said Mistretta. “We had already before coach Brady left started to change a little bit of the culture of the team and turn it more into a really good team, a family type dynamic, get people on board who have that same mentality, and make the team a little bit smaller. We’re continuing in that way, so the idea is we want to make the team a little bit smaller to better utilize our resources and continue to have national level kids on the team where we can be in the national conversation every year like we have been for the last five or six.”

Mistretta discussed the cross country team’s focus.

“They should just continue to be focusing on getting better as a group, continuing to build that chemistry that they have since summer camp started,” said Mistretta. “If we can do that and those guys can continue to improve and come together then I think you’ll see us move up the conference standings a few spots versus where we were last year.”

The cross country team will perform again at the LSU Invitational on Sept. 16. 

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