Lafayette’s cross country teams ran in their first meet of the 2011 season Saturday in the Saltillo Invitational. The Lady Commodores finished sixth out of 12 teams, while the Commodores were 10th out of 14. The junior high boys also competed and finished 10th out of 16 teams.
“This was our first meet. Circumstances got us off to a late start this season, but we are going to work to improve over the next two months,” LHS coach Ben Mikell said. “Doing well at the state meet in November is ultimately what we’re thinking about.”
The varsity girls, who finished second in the state meet last season, were led by sophomore Esmeralda Rodriguez on Saturday. That two-time All-State runner finished 19th overall with a time of 17 minutes, 38 seconds. According to Mikell, Rodriguez’s time was a little slower because she was sick.
“Ezi was really under the weather with allergies, but she wanted to run. Overall I think it was good for her to get out and compete,” Mikell said. “She is better sick than most people are fully charged.”
Rodriguez was followed by Peyton Hamann (28th; 18:04), Rachel Starnes (30th; 18:08), Shantel Pope (90th; 22:28) and Taylor Selby (105th; 23:50).
“Peyton has improved in all areas from last season, and Rachel is so consistent,” Mikell said.
Also running in the event, but not scoring points for LHS, were Mary Hannah Caulder and Ashylnd Smith.
Mikell’s varsity roster on the girls side is a little different this year due to a few moves.
“We could have had all of our top five back, but one of our All-State runner moved to Hawaii and two others chose not to come out for various reasons,” Mikell said. “From one standpoint though, having these unexpected losses is good. We are going to have to learn about re-adjusting goals and battling unexpected adversity. I think these girls are up to it.”
Hart leads ‘Dores
Senior Derek Hart led the Commodores with a personal-best time of 18:54 to finish 38th overall.
“Derek needed that time. His goal is to make All-State. His first step was getting a PR. He’s got to carve out seconds every week,” Mikell said.
Rounding out the runners who scored for Lafayette were Will Alexander (89th; 21:36,), Travis Lyles (21:50), Jacob Roberts (21:54), Sam Faulkner (22:06) and T.J. Hollis (22:07). Nat McChesney, Kris Crow, T.J. Parsons, Josh Bussom and Terry Cordell also competed.
Ivan Lopez led the junior high boys team with a 12:54, good for 17th overall. Wes Brown finished with a 14:09, good for 63rd place; Nicholas Hollis was 71st with a 14:17; Christian Foster was 77th with a 14:26; Gabe Champion was 80th with a 14:28, while Addison Roush finished with a 14:30.
Foster Roush, Nathan Hollis, Ryan Mardis, Grayson Mays, Casey Wood, Vincent Bruno and Calvin Sellers all ran as well.
Nikki Kesler led the junior high girls team with a 24th-place finish and a time of 15:46, while Julianna Mikell finished 131 with an 18:50.
Lafayette returns to action this Saturday in Tupelo. (September 19, 2011, Page 2B)