Cross country runs into top five finish

Lion Cross Country

The Lion’s Roar / Jay Love
Freshman Michael Perez pushes onward to a top 50 finish for the Lions. Sophomore Stephen Cassingham follows closely behind Perez and finished only 13 seconds after Perez had crossed the line. 

It may not be the gold or silver ribbon that the men’s and women’s cross country teams have grown accustomed to over the past few weeks, but there was still much to cheer about this past Saturday at the Cowboy Stampede in Lake Charles. 

The Lions and Lady Lions entered the match riding the momentum of a second place finish at the LSU Invitational the week prior. Both the men and women teams placed fifth in the meet hosted by McNeese. Louisiana State University, Southern University, Xavier University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette are just a few of the in-state schools Southeastern ran against Saturday. The Tigers of LSU captured 31 points to win the women’s race while host team McNeese defended their home course by placing first in the men’s race.

Continuing to lead the Lions was junior Harry Wiggins. The Prairieville native placed 14th overall en route to his career-best time of 20:01.1 on a four-mile course. Joseph Edwards was the next Lion to finish the race. Edwards, a junior business administration major from Monroe, placed 37th overall after running a time of 21:28.0. Three other Lions joined Wiggins and Edwards in the top 50. Freshman Michael Perez, sophomore Stephen Cassingham and freshman Isaiah Gilbert finished 43rd, 46th and 47th respectively. 

On the women’s side, the star freshman Celia Zaeringer extended her spot at the top of the team with seventh place overall finish among the women.  The New Orleans native fought her way to a time of 17:45.4, a personal best for Zaeringer. Following up on their impressive showings last week at the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, freshmen Clarissa Smith and Haley Gregoire added more top 50 finishes to the Lady Lions Saturday. Smith ran a time of 18:55.7, earning her 26th place and Gregoire finished 41st after turning in a time of 19:26.2. Finishing out the top five runners for the Lady Lions was junior Katie Neil with a time of 21:09.3 and junior Jennifer Ernst, who finished with a time of 22:59.3.

Assistant coach Brandon Chapoton was pleased with the team’s results and believes that they are on course for a successful run at conference. 

“Both the men and the women teams ran a bunch of personal records. The teams have been showing steady improvement in practices each week and Saturday they raced well,” said Chapoton. “At this point in the season, the men and women are right where we want to be with only a few weeks left before conference.”

The Lions and Lady Lions will next travel to Jackson, Miss. to compete in the Mississippi College Choctaw Open, a meet that the men won last year, Oct. 3. For more news on Lion and Lady Lion cross-country, go to