- Staff Reporter
THIBODAUX, La. — After a week-long break from competition, the Nicholls State University cross country program posted a notably strong performance at the team’s only home event of the season — the Nicholls XC Invitational, posting a pair of third-place team finishes behind regionally-ranked opponents LSU & Tulane, respectively. Individually, the freshman duo of Elsa Rijpstra and Olari Livingston notched the Colonels’ only Top 10 placements on the day, with the former grabbing sixth on the women’s side while the latter slotted in at eighth for the men’s field.
“I think we performed to our realistic expectations,” head coach Stefanie Slekis said. “I think that we ran well, especially considering how young we are and how hard we’ve been training this past month. You’re going to be tired this time of year, and obviously as a coach, I’m hungry and want more. We want to get wins against LSU & Tulane, but I think that’s coming in due time. When you’re looking at two regionally ranked opponents, what we were able to do today against really good competition with two freshmen getting into the Top 10 is a solid win for us. Plus, our next finishers were right behind them, so this was a really positive step in terms of progressing towards our season goals.”
On the men’s side, the Red & Gray punched two more into the Top 15 individual finishers, as sophomores Dustin Worley & Tyler Granger crossed just seconds apart at 13th & 14th, respectively. Another pair of freshmen — Octavio Vasquez-Tilley & Preston Whisenhunt — rounded out the Nicholls’ scoring runners, slotting 22nd & 24th overall on the final leaderboard and, despite not factoring into the scoring component, both sophomore Cameron Carter & freshman Hunter Batt put together strong showings as well, wrapping up the men’s field at 29th & 30th.
The final team scoring saw the men clinch third place overall, outpacing host Southern (89, fourth) and fellow Southland member New Orleans (111, fifth) in the final rankings. Ahead of the Colonels, LSU picked up the meet victory behind just 31 points while Tulane snared second with 45 total points.
Meanwhile, the women’s squad also managed to capture two more Top 15 runners individually, as freshmen Augusta Marie Grønberg Christensen & Skyler Goodman grabbed 12th & 13th, respectively, finishing just five seconds apart. Sophomore Faith Keter battled her way to a 17th overall ranking while freshman Willow Johnson rounded out the scoring at 21st; outside of the top five, junior Eleana Callejas & freshman Myah Robichaux clocked solid performances, finishing 23rd & 25th to close out the Colonels on the course.
For team scoring, the Red & Gray ranked third once again behind LSU (23, first) and Tulane (43, second) while Southern (102, fourth) and a four-woman New Orleans squad grabbed the bottom two spots.
“I’m really excited about this year’s event, especially since we grew a lot from last year,” Slekis continued. “We’re actually able to build a venue that’s just for our sport. The Nicholls Farm is just for the sport of cross country, and as we keep improving it, I think people will see just how special this event can be. I’m excited to see where we’ll be year three and year four.”
With competition wrapped up in Thibodaux, the Colonels turn their attention to the LSU XC Invitational less than a week from now, trekking north to Baton Rouge, La. on Friday, Sept. 27.
For more information on Colonels Track & Field/Cross Country, follow the team on Twitter (@Nicholls_XCTF), Instagram (@geauxcolonels) and like their Facebook page (Nicholls Athletics).
Article sourced from provided press release.