Final Coaches Poll 11/16

Great season everyone! Here are the final coaches poll for this cross country season.  See you all in track!

Girls Composite Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Joseph’s (10) 100
2 Menard 89
3 Mandeville 81
4 St. Michael 66
5 Dominican 57
6 Sacred Heart 43
7 ED White 25
8 Vandebilt 22
9 Mt. Carmel 19
10 St. Thomas Aquinas 16
Others receiving votes:
St. Martin’s, St. Scholastica, Episcopal of Acadiana, Lafayette
Boys Composite Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Episcopal (6) 95
2 Catholic (4) 94
3 Airline 81
4 Brother Martin 69
5 Holy Cross 58
6 Jesuit 46
7 St. Paul’s 41
8 Belle Chasse 30
9 Parkway 17
10 St. Martin’s 6
Others receiving votes:
Beau Chene, ED White, West Feliciana, Curtis, Erath

2017 Crescent City Fall Classic

Familiar Names, New Faces Shine at Fall Classic

I suppose we’ve returned to the endless summer, although a more logically appropriate conclusion may be that we never left despite a promising week-long cool front. While the “Fall” in the Crescent City Fall Classic was used a bit loosely this year, nearly 1900 participants (1876 to be exact) proved braver than yours truly in taking part in one of the larger and more entertaining short race events New Orleans offers. Rounding into shape after an injury-riddled spring, Patrick Aucoin finished first overall with a time of 15:45, edging out his PMTC teammate, Richard Bouckeart, and the man from Amsterdam (or some other non-New Orleans location), Tyler Cannon. Bouckeart and Cannon finished with times of 15:55 and 16:14, respectively, though they came through the 2-mile mark just behind Aucoin.

On the women’s side, Rachel Paul (two first names always a crowd pleaser), a former Georgetown distance runner and the newest member of the Louisiana Distance Project’s women’s team, crossed first with a time of 17:28. Paul finished eighth overall. Stefanie Slekis and Julie Martin finished with times of 18:11 and 18:59 to round out the women’s top three.

As they often do, the Crescent City Classic group put together an excellent event. The race itself was entertaining from front to back, and the pre and post-race festivities provided Chuck George led entertainment as well as the usual endless supplies of Michelob Ultra, CC’s coffee (is that redundant?), and jambalaya. Youth Run NOLA brought swarms of aspiring runners, continuing their remarkable success in linking the sport to various communities throughout the city, something for which we and the rest of the running community are very grateful.

The next and final Crescent City Classic event of 2017 will be the Celebration in the Oaks 2-Mile Walk/Run on December 9th. If we’re lucky, summer might be over by then. We will be out there and hope to see all five of our readers as well! As always, we appreciate the opportunity to cover these events and give back whatever we can to all who have been so supportive of us. Happy running and see you at the races.

For hundreds of more photos visit our facebook page here.

– Or check out some of our favorite photos from the race below.

Coaches Poll 11/6

Boys Small School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Episcopal (10) 100
2 St. Thomas Aquinas 88
3 St. Martin’s 82
4 Menard 70
5 Episcopal of Acadiana 59
6 Cedar Creek 51
7 Ascension Catholic 38
8 Newman 27
9 Runnels 25
10 Lakeside 6
Others receiving votes:
Jehovah-Jireh, Country Day
Boys Large School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Catholic (8) 97
2 Brother Martin (2) 85
2 Holy Cross 70
4 St. Paul’s 68
5 Jesuit 49
6 Mandeville 38
7 Belle Chasse 37
8 Airline 29
9 Parkway 27
10 Curtis 14
Others receiving votes:
Fontainbleau, Live Oak, St. Michael’s
Girls Small School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Menard (10) 100
2 St. Thomas Aquinas 88
3 Episcopal 77
4 St. Martin’s 62
5 Newman 51
6 Runnels 49
7 Covenant Christian 41
8 McGehee 29
9 Episcopal of Acadiana 24
10 Avoylles Charter 12
Others receiving votes:
Christ Epsicopal, Westminster, Ascension Catholic
Girls Large School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Joseph’s (10) 100
2 Mandeville 90
3 St. Michael’s 78
4 Vandebilt 67
5 Dominican 65
6 Sacred Heart 45
7 Mt. Carmel 40
8 St. Scholastica 34
9 E.D. White 26
10 Lafayette 13
Others receiving votes:
Belle Chasse, Barbe, University, Cabrini

2017 Jazz Half Marathon

The Chilly Jazz Half Marathon

On a relatively unseasonably Saturday morning (or perhaps a rare instance of seasonably fall weather in New Orleans), 1468 entrants competed in the Jazz Half Marathon and 5K. Ian Carr cruised to a first-place finish with a time of 1:12:56, running even splits while outpacing his nearest competitor by about 5 minutes. Rounding out the men’s top three were Benjamin Maas and Ondrej Blaha, finishing with times of 1:17:58 and 1:20:06, respectively. On the women’s side, Michelle Parks took top honors with a finish of 1:22:33, also good for eighth overall. Meghann Lawson and Grace Thacker followed with times of 1:28:22 and 1:29:18. Thacker narrowly edged out Morgan Evans, finishing just seven seconds behind in 1:29:25. Timothy Divasto, Laura Garcia-Cardona, and Dave Pickett were the top three finishers amongst the 402 5K participants, running times of 19:05, 21:26, and 22:29.

Participants deservedly enjoyed a beer or six in Lafayette Square after traversing the windy course, hopefully making the hour-plus of running slightly less painful and the chilly weather less noticeable for those not covered by hot dog costumes and other spooky Halloween garbs. It usually works for yours truly. As my three readers may have surmised, live jazz music accompanied the post-race festivities, which is always music to the ears (sorry, it had to be done, though I am growing more ashamed of myself by the second).

All in all, it was a nice turnout for an event worth contributing to, as many of the funds the Jazz Half raises goes to Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Program. The race directly benefits the Lanasa-Greco Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. More information can be found on the Jazz Half and Children’s Hospital websites. We include this here to point out that many local races contribute to great causes, and while racing always offers something to those participating, it never hurts to be reminded that runners and walkers are often presented with opportunities to help others through these events.

For hundreds of photos visit our facebook photo album here, for full result click here.

– or check out some of our favorite photos from the race below.

Coaches Poll 10/23

Boys Composite Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Episcopal (8) 98
2 Catholic (1) 90
3 Brother Martin (1) 81
4 St. Paul’s 61
5 Holy Cross 54
6 Belle Chasse 42
7 Jesuit 27
8 Parkway 26
9 Airline 20
10 St. Thomas Aquinas 19
Others receiving votes:
St. Martin’s, Mandeville, Live Oak, St. Michael, ED White, Curtis
Girls Composite Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Joseph’s (10) 100
2 Mandeville 85
3 Menard 83
4 St. Michael 69
5 Vandebilt 63
6 Dominican 45
7 Sacred Heart 36
8 Mt. Carmel 25
9 St. Scholastica 14
10 St. Thomas Aquinas 13
Others receiving votes:
St. Martin’s, ED White, Episcopal, Newman, Parkway, Lafayette

Photo courtesy of The Advocate

Coaches Poll 10/9

Boys Small School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Episcopal (10) 100
2 St. Thomas Aquinas 84
3 St. Martin’s 80
4 Menard 70
5 Episcopal of Acadiana 59
6 Cedar Creek 46
7 Newman 41
8 Ascension Catholic 38
9 Runnels 13
10 Jehovah Jireh 5
Others receiving votes:
Houma Christian, Country Day, Berwick, Hannan, Choudrant, Dunham
Boys Large School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Catholic (6) 90
2 Brother Martin (3) 87
2 St. Paul’s 76
4 Holy Cross 74
5 Parkway (1) 60
6 Mandeville 39
7 Belle Chasse 37
8 Jesuit 36
9 Fontainebleau 19
10 Airline 12
Others receiving votes:
ED White, Curtis, St. Michael, Live Oak
Girls Small School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Menard (10) 100
2 St. Thomas Aquinas 90
3 Episcopal 78
4 Covenant Christian 67
5 St. Martin’s 63
6 Newman 43
7 Episcopal of Acadiana 42
8 Cedar Creek 16
9 Catholic Point Coupee 12
10 Ascension Catholic 9
Others receiving votes:
McGehee, Westminster, Country Day, Grace Christian
Girls Large School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Joseph’s (10) 100
2 Mandeville 90
3 St. Michael 75
4 Vandebilt 71
5 Sacred Heart 44
6 Mt. Carmel 43
7 Dominican 39
8 St. Scholastica 26
9 Lafayette 24
10 ED White 13
Others receiving votes:
Fontainbleau, Barbe, Parkway, St. Thomas More, Parkview Baptist, University

Coaches Poll Results 9/25

Boys Composite Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Catholic (8) 95
2 Episcopal (1) 90
3 St. Paul’s (1) 77
4 Brother Martin 71
5 Holy Cross 46
6 Parkway 42
7 Belle Chasse 34
8 St. Martin’s 31
9 St. Thomas Aquinas 16
10 Mandeville 12
Others receiving votes:
Jesuit, Airline, Fontainebleau, ED White, Erath, Curtis, Menard, Cedar Creek
Girls Composite Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Joseph (10) 100
2 Mandeville 85
3 Menard 82
4 Vandebilt 70
5 St. Michael 59
6 Dominican 34
7 St. Scholastica 30
8 Lafayette 24
9 Sacred Heart 23
10 Mt. Carmel 19
Others receiving votes:
Episcopal, St. Thomas Aquinas, Belle Chasse, Newman, University

Coaches Poll Results 9/11

Girls Small School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Menard (10) 100
2 Episcopal 80
3 Episcopal of Acadiana 62
4 Covenant Christian 58
5 Ascension Catholic 50
5 St. Martin’s 50
7 Newman 44
8 St. Thomas Aquinas 40
9 Catholic- Point Coupee 18
10 Ascension Episcopal 16
Others receiving votes:
Country Day, Cedar Creek, Runnels


Girls Large School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Joseph (10) 100
2 Mandeville 90
3 Vandebilt 73
4 St. Michael 64
5 Lafayette 53
6 Mt Carmel 27
6 Sacred Heart 27
6 St. Scholastica 27
9 Parkview 25
10 Dominican 20
Others receiving votes:
Zachary, University, Parkway, Dutchtown, Fontainebleau, Ponchatoula, Belle Chasse, ED White, Curtis
Boys Small School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 Episcopal (10) 100
2 St. Martin’s 86
3 St. Thomas Aquinas 63
4 Menard 60
5 Episcopal of Acadiana 53
6 Ascension Catholic 48
7 Newman 45
8 Cedar Creek 33
9 Runnels 20
10 Country Day 17
Others receiving votes:
Dunham, Ascencion Episcopal, Choudrant, Catholic- Point Coupee
Boys Large School Rankings
Rank Team Points
1 St. Paul’s (3) 86
2 Catholic (6) 83
2 Brother Martin (1) 79
4 Holy Cross 71
5 Jesuit 38
6 Curtis 30
7 ED White 26
7 Parkway 26
9 Live Oak 21
10 Airline 20
Others receiving votes:
St. Michael, Belle Chasse, Mandeville, Fontainbleau, West Monroe, Lafayette, West Feliciana, Ruton Zachary, Dutchtown, Benton

Girls Composite Top 10 Pre-Season Team Rankings


1) Mandeville- Under second year with head coach Anthony Pequeno, Mandeville will be a tough opponent for SJA and enters the season as the slight favorite.

2) St. Joseph- In what could be interchangeable at first or second, SJA should be right on the heels of Mandeville with the returning experience that won a state title last year.

3) Vandebilt- The 4A State champs last year could make an argument for top team in the state considering they graduate any runners from last year.

4) Menard- The 2A powerhouse just trucks along each year like a well oiled machine.  The talent on the roster this year should be enough to take home the 2A title.

5) Sacred Heart- Always a great peaking team, Sacred Heart looks poised for another 3A title again in a few short months.

6) Lafayette- A big question mark as far as where to be placed, Lafayette certainly has more than enough capable distance runners in the program to be a top composite program.

7) Dominican- This year Dominican is without a household name as the low stick, but should have a tight spread to keep them competitive.

8) Mt. Carmel- Under second year coach Casey Kaiser, MCA should be improved from last year, looking to avenge the one point loss at district to Dominican.

9) St. Michael- Despite graduating a former state champion, St. Michael should have the talent to podium finish in a 4A race that will be one of the strongest in years.

10) St. Scholastica- SSA will have several girls who should be in the mid to low 19s, but has great depth and can always find new blood to help the team out.

Photo courtesy of HoumaTimes.Com

Boys Composite Top 10 Pre-Seaon Team Rankings


1) Brother Martin- BM enters the season with the best returning track credentials of any team in the.  While track isn’t XC, Brother Martin will have the same distance coach (Drew Haro) for both track and cross country for the first time in a few years, and the continuity may help continue that forward trend.

2) St. Paul’s- SPS has won 2 state titles in the past 4 years and will have a very good chance to win a third this year.  The battle between BM and SPS should be just a narrow, few point margin.

3) Episcopal- It should never surprise anyone when EHS is ranked high.  Despite graduating top tier runners each year, EHS will always find a way to be a distance powerhouse again the next.

4) Holy Cross- Coming very close to beating Brother Martin last year at state, Holy Cross looks very capable of competing with the top level teams this fall.

5) Airline- Slowly creeping up the past few years, Airline should be able to springboard off a strong track season in addition to some new young freshman who could contribute.

6) Catholic- Only finishing 6th last year at state and graduating a large amount of runners, the numbers game will always work in favor of CHS and their top 3 returners should score low enough to keep the team towards the top of every meet they race.

7) St. Thomas Aquinas- With no superstars, STA should be able to rock and roll this year with a strong pack and the ever present motivation of having to compete against EHS at state.

8) Jesuit- There is nearly a 100% chance Jesuit will finish the season with a higher ranking, as far as returners, Jesuit will need to rely on a slew of new names to get the job done this year.

9) Belle Chasse- The 4A state champs lost a couple to graduation but should still see steady progression entering the second season with head coach Micah Simoneaux.

10) John Curtis- With their candidates for 5th man running in the 10:30s during track, Curtis should be able to hang with most other top programs this fall.

Nike South, Footlocker South and AAU XC Junior Olympics

Each year some of the state’s top talent travels to post season cross country meet around the country to compete against other top athletes in an assortment of races.  The 2015 season was the height of LA XC against regional and national competition.  Devyn Keith qualified for Nike Cross Nationals (only LA runner to qualify in NXN history), Gabrielle Jennings was the AAU Junior Olympics national champion, Eric Coston was first alternate for Footlocker Nationals after finishing 11th at regionals and Olivia Murphy was 3rd Team All-South at Nike South.  Last year team Louisiana won the AAU XC Nationals as a team in the girls 15-18 division.

When will LA reach those height again or even qualify a team to NXN?  Can LA continue to have success with the AAU Junior Olympics?  We will only have to wait a few shorts months to find out.  Here is some information on these post season meets:

Footlocker South– Novemeber 25th, Charlotte NC

Nike Cross Regional South– November 28th, Woodlands TX

AAU Cross Country Junior Olympics- December 2nd, Charlotte NC (Information is not available yet but will be linked at a later date).

Boys CO ’18 Individual Rankings

1) Adam Wise, Fontainebleau- Fresh off a 4:17c from his Mobile win this spring, Wise looks to be the next big miler from LA.

2) Graham Frazier, EHS- With a 9:29c from Mobile, Frazier has the wheels to give Wise a run for his money for top honors.

3) Hayden Courrege, Brother Martin- His 4:24 fom the spring is nothing to sneeze at, but his 15:05 at Highland remains his standout performance to date.

4) Nicholas Scott, Tara- Dropped his PR from 2:01 to 1:55 in 2017.

5) Blake Baldassaro, Holy Cross- Earned a 15:35 and 4:24 this year.

6) Kenny Schafer, EHS- Enters the season with PRs of 15:40 and 9:50.

7) Key Alfred, Carencro- Big year of improvement for Alfred who dropped his PRs to 1:57/4:26/9:51/15:42.

8) Kolyn Saltzman, Westgate- A big 9:44 win at 4A state earns Saltzman some recognition.

9) Zachary Barthel, Curtis- A 4:25 at regionals got him a spot at the state meet in 5A.

10) Tyrell Hargrove, McKinley- More of a long sprinter, Hargrove ran 48.8/1:56 this spring.

Photo courtesy of the Advocate.

Girls CO ’18 Individual Rankings

1) Angelle Primeaux, Lafayette- A healthy Primeaux will be very tough to beat; as a sophomore she ran 2:14, 5:05 and 11:22.  Last year sickness and recovery from an injury took significant effect on her fitness, but assuming those issues have been sorted out, Angelle looks like the class of the field.

2) Sydney Minor, Lafayette- A 1-2 punch could be deadly in the spring with 2:17/5:09 runner Minor gaining so much momentum this spring.

3) Ciara Gilroy, Barbe- The daughter of great distance coach, no wonder she makes this list.  Gilroy finished the spring with 2:17/5:19 PRs.

4) Adrianna Wilder, Parkway- Earning a 5:12 this spring, Wilder also finished the year with a SB of 11:31.  Potential is there to make a big jump, though, as her PR is actually 11:10, and should she regain that form this year may give Primeaux a run for her money on the track.

5) Emily Blanchard, Hahnville- Seemingly more at home in the longer events, Blanchard enters the season with an 18:24 PR from Walker last year and a runner-up finish at state last year indoors in 11:55.

6) Jennifer Bennett, SJA- Finishing 6th at XC state last year and 4th in the Indoor 3200, Bennett will be a big player in the team race this XC season.

7) Mikala Ruhl, Newman- Enters the season with 5:40/11:49/19:27 PRs.

8) Jessi Ruhl, Newman- Has run 12:12 on the track and 19:11 in XC.

9) Oneke Gwan, Ruston- Ran 2:17 for the podium in the 5A 800 last year.

10) Haley Dean, Lakeshore- Ran 5:29 in the spring to win the 4A 1600 and ran 19:11 during XC.

Photo courtesy of Bossier Press-Tribune

Top 5 Cross Country Storylines To Follow In 2017

5) Will Weather Have A Major Effect Again?: Last year saw warm temperatures well into October, slowing down some of the races that were known for their fast performances.  This year we are already seeing significant rain and a higher chance of tropical storms than in previous years.  Weather has always wreaked havoc on XC in Louisiana (see the state meet in 2015) and the question isn’t will it, but rather to what extent will the weather affect cross country this fall?

4) Schedule Shake-Ups: As noted before, there is no more NOLA Metro championship this year, instead having the meet moved up two weeks into September.  The Walker meet will not take place this year, nor the Rummel/Chapelle Invite.  At Highland, a rare September SJA meet happens on the 30th and Catholic is on the 7th of October.  With so many changes, traditional XC schedules will be drastically altered to accommodate the substantially different mid-season schedule.

3) Mandeville-SJA Rivalry: Entering the 2017 season SJA holds the score of 2-1 in the past 3 seasons as both teams have occupied the top 2 spots at state each of those years.  This year they look to be two of the more serious contenders for the 5A title again, and both return a strong team.  Coach Pequeno of Mandeville enters his second season at the helm so the Skippers may be strengthened by a full year of continuity with their current coach.

2) Will There Be A National Class Male Runner?: It’s been 6 years since we had a season where the top runner didn’t break 15.  In that time, LA has produced an NXN qualifier, a first alternate for Footlocker, and several runners who would go on to run great times in spring and be ranked nationally at the time (Zachary Albright was ranked top 20 in the country when he ran 4:12 at Sugar Bowl).  This year Hunter Appleton is poised to take the reigns based off his 9:18 last year.

1) Can Brother Martin Win?: It’s been 10 years since brother Martin has won the 5A title and they have their best team since then.  They will have a tough battle in order to win the title, though, as last year’s champ St. Paul’s seem to be returning enough to win again despite losing their all-time runner Eric Coston.  As of right now, it seems like the difference between the two teams is less than 5 points.  Brother Martin will have the best 1-2 punch in the state, but SPS is always known for depth.

Photo courtesy of the Advocate.

Top 5 Cross Country Meets To Watch For

As we do every year, we will plot out the top 5 regular season cross country meets to watch for big performances and clashes of top teams.  Here is our 2017 list:

5) Airline Viking Invite, Sept. 23rd- Coach Hamiter at Airline has been working to get teams from all across the state (and some from outside the state) and has received a few confirmations from SELA teams to take the trip to Bossier to take on the north LA teams.  Coach Hamiter looks to make the meet have a distance carnival feel.

4) St. Michael’s Warrior Run, Nov. 4th – In it’s first year last year, the warrior run ended up being one of the fastest meets of the year and was a great way to watch many non-5A programs have one last shot at a fast time on the infamous Highland Road Park course.

3) Sugar Bowl XC Meet, Sept. 30th- What used to be the New Orleans Metro Championship, Sugar Bowl has become a meet geared towards bringing top local schools and some out of state programs to the City Park course in New Orleans.  It will conflict with the SJA invite for teams though.

2) St. Joseph’s Invite, Sept. 30th- If based on the performances the past few years, it seems SJA has passed up the CHS meet in terms of competitiveness and times, but with the emergence of the Sugar Bowl meet it may miss out on some SELA programs that would have gone in previous years.

1) Catholic High Invite, Oct. 7th- Of course the grand daddy of them would be first, holding strong after all those years.  The coveted orange t-shirt is still a staple of the who’s-who in the LA distance circle.


10 Questions With SLU Distance Coach Rocky Capello

Rocky Capello is entering his second year as the distance coach at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond after spending several years producing several state champion squads at Ascension Catholic High School.
LRC: Coming from a small high school squad, how was the transition to coaching at the D1 level?
RC: The transition was actually pretty smooth.   From a training perspective, my High School kids actually had a training program pretty similar if not more difficult than the training being done by my college returners.  It was great to see how well the College kids adapted and embraced my style of training.
LRC: How would you rate your first year as a college coach in terms of reaching your goals?
RC: I thought we had a successful year.  Our Men’s goal was to average 26:30 at the Conference Meet for the 8K race.  We came close and averaged 26:44 which was a nice improvement over the 27:58 average from the previous year. The Women’s team did really well considering the circumstances.  For most of the season, we only had 3 distance runners on the girls squad.  At the Conference Meet, we raced 6 girls including a sprinter, pole vaulter and Tennis player.  Despite this, we were able to beat 3 teams.
LRC: How has the recruiting process been and how did your first class shape up?
RC: My first recruiting class looks solid on both the Boy’s and Girl’s side.  We added a lot of quality and should be really competitive for the next few years.  On the Boy’s side, our top signees were Adam Cortez (15:21, 5K/ 9:25, 3200m), Jonathan Respress (1:52, 800m/ 16:33, 5K), Anthony Cordero (1:57, 800m/15:45, 5K), and Parker Phillips (15:45, 5K/ 4:24, 1600m).  In addition, Devyn Keith (1:53, 800m/ 4:16, 1600m/ 14:55, 5k) has decided to transfer to our school from Tulane, so he is expected to be a huge contributor to our program.  On the Girl’s side, our top signees were Sophie Daigle (18:18, 3mile/5:20, 1600m), Tara Stuntz (18:21, 3 mile/ 5:19, 1600m), Breanna Bernard (19:12, 3 mile/ 11:59, 3200m), and Lindsey Hutcheson (19:31, 3 mile).
LRC: How long each week do you spend recruiting?
RC: After I was hired last Summer, I spent about 15-20 hours each week either recruiting or researching recruits.  It seems to have paid off.  We have 13 new distance runners on the squad this year.  Of the 24 distance runners who will be on the 2017-18 team, only 1 is a Senior.  Because of that, I haven’t spent nearly as much time recruiting for the 2018 class.  We are hoping to sign 1-2 guys and 2-3 girls for next year’s class.
LRC: What is your vision for the future of the SLU distance program?
RC: As I told Coach Brady when he offered me the position, my goal is for SLU to compete for  Cross Country Conference Championships every year and to have one of the top 5 programs in the Region.
I also look forward to training Track athletes looking to be NCAA Regional and National qualifiers.
LRC: What does a typical training week look like for your team during cross country?
RC: During the Summer, it is all about building a stamina base by increasing mileage and adding in long Steady State Runs and Tempo Runs before arriving to campus in August.  In August, September and October, depending on the race schedule,  we will generally do easy runs on MondayWednesday and Saturday and have either a Tempo, Interval or Fartlek session on Tuesday and Friday.  On Sunday we do either a Long Run or Steady State Run.
LRC: What advice would you give to a high school athlete who isn’t sure if they want to run in college?
RC: If you believe you have the talent to be a college athlete, you should accept the challenge.  You won’t ever regret trying.  You will probably regret not trying.  There are so many talented runners out there who are not in a training program which will generate recruitable marks.  I would encourage anyone who has a dream of being a college athlete to try to find a program willing to give them a shot.
LRC: If I was a top high school athlete, what stands out about your program that should make me choose SLU?
1. SLU is a great university with many quality academic opportunities at an affordable cost including one of the best Freshman Scholarship programs in the State.
2. The Cross Country squad is a tight knit family and the 24 members are very supportive of each other.
3. The training program is a science-based, progressive system designed to maximize the potential of each member of the team and not just the superstars.
4. In my program, the well-being of each athlete will always take precedence over anything else.
LRC: Is there anyone on your team who you feel is ready to have a breakout year?
RC: As far as returners, I expect Grant O’Callaghan to have a huge year.  Last year, he was one of the top Freshmen in the Conference, running 15:16 in 5k and 3:55 in 1500m.  I think he will easily exceed those marks and compete for Conference honors in XC and Track.  I also expect Junior, Clarissa Smith to have her best Track season of her career.  She will redshirt this XC season, but she should be one of the top Steeplechase competitors in the Spring.  In addition, without mentioning names, I think 5-6 incoming Freshmen have a chance to score at a Conference Meet this year.
LRC: What is the biggest lesson you learned this year?
RC: I learned that you have to sometimes let go of the reins and trust the athletes to prepare themselves.  Coming from a small HS setting, I micro-managed athletes training them from 5th grade until 12th grade.  That just isn’t possible in a college setting.

Outdoor Track Preview 2018

Now moving onto the preview for outdoor track:


5) Baton Rouge- While currently looking like a two girl squad of thrower Logan Lewis and jumper Taylor Strickland, far too much talent flows through the halls of Magnet and we can expect a few other athletes to enter the fold to put together at least a good relay or two.

4) Sacred Heart- The usual suspects of Mary Nusloch and Claire Moreau will anchor the team.  Sacred Heart will fill in several other spots with other distance, sprinters and javelin throwers to make for a very powerful team next May.

3) St. Joseph’s- SJA will find a way to score in a wide variety of events and their program is known for developing athletes who can compete for podium spots.

2) Lafayette- While Lafayette will rack up points in distance, throws and jumps as well as relays, outdoor does a much better job of slowing top programs down.  Lafayette has the talent to win next year, but so does our number one team.

1) CE Byrd- Byrd returns everyone except their top sprinter, Kyah Loyd who will be Tulane this year.  While this may seem like a huge loss, and it is, don’t forget the other 7 girls who competed for Byrd at state also finished on the podium.


5) Cecilia- Sprints and hurdles will go a long way for Cecilia this coming year.  Ryan Malbrough in the 100 and 200 and the combination of Terrell Chevalier and Kaleb Carter will be a force in the hurdles.

4) Episcopal-  As we saw before, EHS will probably get both runners on the podium in the distance events and Caden Dickinson will score many points in the hurdles for the Knights.  They will also scoop up some points in the jumping events as usual.

3) Catholic- The Bears return a couple distance runners who can score for them and their top dog Sethan Hollier, but lack star power outside of that.  No worries though, as Catholic will still figure out a way to podium in the 4×2 and 4×4 as they always do.

2) West Feliciana- They rival the top team in terms of sheer talent, but have slightly less depth.  They will own the sprints and throws and will probably produce a national class 4×2 time.

1) Curtis- The Patriots will have a shot to podium in the 100, 200, 1600, HJ, LJ, SP and Jav while also picking up potential points in the 800, 300H, Disc and 4×2.  Not bad for any class, much less in 5A.

Indoor Track Preview 2018

As mentioned in our previous post, we will include a track preview for next year to help hold you over until the school year starts again!  Here we look at the rankings for the top 5 programs for the indoor track season to keep an eye on.


5) St. James- Three girl team of Kionne Octave, Kaylin Martin and Korri Martin look to rack up points in the hurdles and jumps and will be a force in the small schools division.

4) Sacred Heart of NOLA-  Another small school squad of three girls, Mary Nusloch, Claire Moreau and Sara Spinosa could get on the podium for both individual events and team standings, especially if they can also get a 4×8 and another distance runner in the mix for some open event points.

3) Zachary- It’s no surprise that Zachary will still be good at the sprints with Indya Jackson returning as the heir-apparent to Janie O’Conner.  They should also pick up a few points in the shotput as well.

2) St. Joseph’s- Distance will still carry the bulk of the workload for SJA even with the departure of Gabriella Chauvin, but there is still opportunity for the Redstickers to get some points in the jumps and throws which they’ve traditionally done well at.

1) Lafayette- There’s little surprise that Lafayette would enter the year as the favorite, but to put things in perspective, they would be competitive for the title without their distance points, but that happen to be their overwhelming strength point entering the season.


5) Zachary- Outside of Sean Burrell, Zachary can nickel and dime themselves some points in a variety of other events to have a high finish at the state meet.

4) Catholic- Despite winning indoor and outdoor last year, graduation hits Catholic very hard this year.  The ranking here is based on potential, and that potential is that the coaching staff will always put together a great squad each season but much like two indoor seasons ago, if another team has the serious guns, Catholic won’t get the win on coaching alone.  Sethan Hollier is the only surefire athlete on Catholic’s team who we can expect to see on the podium.

3) West Feliciana- This squad is very top heavy and has a bunch of great athletes.  Sprinters Kam Jackson, Darius Davis and Derek Turner combined with Jacob Fudge in the shotput has this team looking very good for next season.

2) Episcopal- EHS usually only does three things during the indoor season: distance, hurdles, and jumps.  That’s generally enough.  Their distance squad is an endless supply of state caliber runners and don’t be surprised if they put both runners on the podium this year.

1) John Curtis- Graduation hurt Curtis but they return an insane amount of talent, it will be hard for Catholic to even enter the running events close.  Returning is state HJ champ Donnell Jones, 54 foot shot putter Zachariah Blake, 23-10 long jumper Lance Williams, 2016 60m state champ Corey Wren, 4:25 1600 runner Zach Barthel, and an army of sprinters and distance runners who will get the team points in all three relays.

10 Questions With LSU Coach Mark Rinker

Mark Rinker was just hired from Northeastern University in Boston and will now be the new distance coach for Louisiana State University.  Here is a few questions to get to know Mark:

Photo courtesy of Oregon Track Club.  Featured image courtesy of LSUSports.Net.

LRC: What do you believe so far has been your biggest coaching accomplishment?

MR: I’ve been lucky to be around a lot of great athletes over the last decade.  It is hard to pinpoint just one accomplishment, so many athletes have worked so hard and done some amazing things, but to be honest the biggest thrill I’ve had coaching was watching Paul Duffey break 4 minutes in the Mile last winter.  It was something Paul had worked very hard at for and it really brought the entire Northeastern program together which was really cool to be a part of.

What about LSU stood out in regards to you applying for the distance job?

I have always admired LSU and the success of the program.  The chance to compete for National Championships is something that I want to do and that is the goal here at LSU.  Also, everyone that I talked to and trust said that Coach Shaver would be a great boss to work for which was a factor when applying for the job.  There are also a lot of great athletes in the program currently and I’m looking forward to working with them which makes the job exciting!

How would you describe your coaching philosophy in regards to training and/or the ins and outs of the daily program?

My coaching philosophy is pretty simple, it all revolves around balance in the program.  That balance is obviously a little different if you are an 800 runner compared to a 5,000/10,000 runner.  However, I want to make sure that over the course of a 2 week cycle we are touching on the various energy systems in an appropriate manner for the time of year.

Generically, could you describe a week of training a typical freshman might run in your program?

I try to individualize things as much as possible as it relates to mileage and overall workload.  With incoming freshman finding out where they come from (training wise) is crucial for me and adjusting the overall workload from there is what I try to do.  The biggest changes are probably the intensity of work-outs and the weight training at the college level.  Typically you can expect to work-out 2-3 times per week (depending on meet schedules and/or training cycles), you are going to lift twice per week and get in a long run, nothing too crazy…

Do you have any coaching mantras you stick to, such at “the process is the goal” that Bill Aris uses with his team at FM?

I know that moving to Louisiana its not real popular to be a Pats fan but my message to my athletes is usuallyTom Brady quote “If you don’t believe in yourself, why is anyone else going to believe in you?”  I think having confidence in yourself and your training is important and when you run with confidence you more often than not run pretty well.

Coming from Boston, will your approach to training change any now that you’ll have more moderate winters but much hotter spring and falls?

I am really looking forward to the moderate winters here!  I don’t think that my overall philosophy will change coming down south, I think the biggest things that I’ll worry about and lose sleep over is making sure people are taking care of themselves, hydrating etc…  I’m sure that we will hit a lot of our work-outs earlier in the morning to avoid the hottest times of the day and I’ll make some small tweaks to some things here and there.  Ultimately we have to find ways to get the work done, a lot of great athletes have trained in the heat/humidity and been successful and I know that we will find a way.

What is your vision or goals for what you hope to accomplish at LSU?

My goals are first and foremost to help LSU when National Championships.  Beyond that I do want to accomplish a few things:  I really want to help develop a successful culture within the Distance program.  I also believe that there is a lot of distance talent in the State of Louisiana and I want to start there and develop that talent at LSU.  Lastly I want to help raise the overall profile of the Distance program nationally with our DMR’s and individuals competing for All American and National Championships.

What would you say to a student-athlete looking to walk on into your program?

I would tell anyone that wanted to walk-on to the program that they better be ready to work hard but that I’ll treat them like anyone else, and we will have a little bit of fun along the way.  The best example of that is Paul Duffey was a 1:55.9 walk-on from HS and he went on to be an 800 All-American and sub 4 minute miler.

If I am a top national recruit, tell me why LSU is the best fit for me.

I’ve coached at the highest levels of Track and Field and what I’ve seen and what I believe is that at the top level it is all about the relationships and trust that an athlete has in their Support Network (Coaches, Trainers, Nutritionists etc…).  From our Academic Support to our Athletic Support, LSU is going to put a network around you that you can trust to give you the support and tools to grow as an athlete and compete to win a National Championship both individually and as a part of a team.

Lastly, and most importantly, what Louisiana food item have you enjoyed the most so far or are looking forward to eating when you have the chance?

I’ve only been in Baton Rouge since Tuesday so I haven’t had a lot of time to venture out yet, I have had some really good BBQ.  I am definitely looking forward to having Crawfish next spring.  I am definitely up for any suggestions on the best places to eat though! 


Look for more local content at LouisianaRunning.Com and now national content via Chaz Caiado at HighSchoolHarrier.Com.

High School Previews 2017-18

As we do every summer, we will bring to you our preview article series for the 2017-18 school year which will include rankings, analysis and coverage for what you can expect to see from Louisiana high school athletes in cross country and track starting this fall.  The preview series will start early July so keep posted!  Here are a few other announcements for the upcoming year.

Also returning this fall will be the LTFCA cross country coaches poll which will begin in September once the season has started.  This poll is open to any head cross country coach who is a member of the LTFCA.  If you are a coach and would like to be a part of the poll, please email with your information.

We are looking for good race photographs of Louisiana runners to use for our articles.  If you have a good photograph you would like to share with us or plan on taking race pictures, please email us and let us know at

We would like to expand our coverage of middle school competitions so if you have any information about upcoming races, results, or just want to give us your contact information for future projects, let us know!

We wrapped up the 2016-17 school year with numerous state and national records falling to a very special and talented group of Louisiana athletes.  We are looking forward to seeing more of the same this coming year!