Cross country earns second at LSU Invitational

clarissa smith runs

Clarissa Smith was one of the fastest runners for Southeastern with a time of 19:46.91.
She placed 11th among the field. 
The Lion’s Roar /  Jay  Love

The Lady’s and Men’s Southeastern cross country teams participated in the annual LSU Invitational this past weekend, with both teams faring well against the stacked competition. 

Louisiana State University hosted the event that took place at Highland Park in Baton Rouge. 

Southeastern got a chance to look at several in-state teams at the invitational. Teams competing were Jackson State University, Loyola, the University of New Orleans, Xavier and the host LSU. 

The Lady Lions had the momentum entering the invitational, as they finished second the week prior at the Wolfpack Invitational. After three Lady Lions finished in the top 25, Southeastern earned second overall in the team standings, trailing only the Lady Tigers of host LSU. 

Headlining the Lady lions was freshman Celia Zaeringer, who was recently named the Southland Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week. The New Orleans native finished second overall among the women runners with a time of 18:27.32. This was the third week in a row that the freshman has led the team. Zaeringer knew she would be facing stiff competition heading into the meet, but still did not quite know what she was in for in only her third collegiate meet. 

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew the LSU girls were going to be out there and I knew they had a good team,” said Zaeringer. “I didn’t really know how I’d do but I was hoping to at least get in the top 10 or top 15.”

The next fastest runner for the Lady Lions was freshman Clarissa Smith. With a time of 19:46.91, Smith placed 11th among the field. Rounding out the top 25 finishers from Southeastern was Haley Gregoire, who placed 17th with a time of 20:21.66.

“[Gregoire] had some injuries, but she ran hard today,” said Brandon Chapoton, assistant coach. “We beat a few good teams today that in the past in our conference we were a little below. I think this will be the year where we get to improve and we seem to be going upwards.”

On the men’s side, the Lions had some impressive performances of their own which led to a second place finish for Southeastern. Leading the way for the men’s side for the third straight week was junior Harry Wiggins. The Prairieville native ran a time of 15:47.72, edging out an LSU runner for third place by less than two seconds. 

“We were really hoping to come out here and win this meet today, but LSU was in a little better shape than we expected,” said Wiggins. “We still came out with a strong time and a strong finish, and I think everybody is really satisfied with how they did.” 

Freshman Isaiah Gilbert continued his success as a freshman with a time of 16:41.13. The time would garner Gilbert a spot in 18th place and the second fastest of the Lion runners. 

Also finishing in the top 25 for the men’s squad were sophomore Stephen Cassingham, junior Joseph Edwards and freshman Michael Perez, who finished 22nd, 24th and 25th respectively. 

“Overall, I feel the guys did well,” said Chapoton. “We were looking to be a little better and be more competitive, but time wise, they all ran pretty well.” 

The cross country team returns to action this Saturday when they travel to Lake Charles to run in the McNeese Cowboy Stampede.