Top finish highlights home meet

Senior pole vaulter Devin King attempts to regain the facility record at Southeastern Track Complex. He held the previous record which was broken by Lafayette High School’s Armand Duplantis with a height of 19-01 feet. Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar

The track and field team rounded off a successful weekend at home with first place finishes in both men’s and women’s categories at the Strawberry Relays.

“We had an exceptional day winning the team title on both the men’s and women’s side and came out of this meet with many new personal bests,” said Head Coach Corey Mistretta. “This meet was a huge success for us.”

The meet took place at the Southeastern Track Complex on Friday, April 13. Mistretta described the experience of hosting the meet, which had 11 teams.

“Hosting track meets are always very time consuming,” said Mistretta. “The week leading up to the event is filled with many tasks, and it becomes hard for our staff to even coach our athletes. That being said, hosting a track meet for our fans and alumni is always very exciting.”  

Junior long jumper Rodney Ruffin highlighted the event by recording the third-best long jump by a Lion in taking first at 26-00.75 feet. He described how he is preparing for upcoming regionals qualification.

“Right now, I’m only taking three jumps in preparing for the regionals track meet,” said Ruffin. “So, just trying to prepare to get used to the pressure of only having to take three jumps instead of six.”

Sophomore hurdler Gerald Coleman broke his previous best time in the 400-meter hurdles by .98 seconds with a time of 53.69 seconds. He described his performance at the meet.

“I felt very good,” said Coleman. “That does not make me feel complete. I’m still moving on towards something even better. I feel like it was a really good race. I was really comfortable on the jump. I kinda fell back, but I’m a good finisher.”

Coleman is coming back from an injury and hopes to endure the injury to deliver better performances.

“I was out for two weeks,” said Coleman. “I had an injury, which is still nagging, but we’re making things work. You got to persevere through these types of things and keep on running ’cause nothing’s gonna be perfect.” 

In the 100-meter race, senior sprinter Cliff Resias won by 0.21 seconds with a time of 10.35 seconds. Resias went on to set a career best with a third-place time of 21.15 in the 200-meter race.

“I was expecting a bit better,” said Resias. “I got to work on my start, but it was a great day. I just got to come back and work on what I have to work on. This is my last outdoor. So, I’m trying to do my best and come out on top. I’m doing better than I did last year. I’m keeping it consistent with my 10.3s and the 21s. Just got to break my 21s now.” 

Mistretta believes the team still has room for improvement going into the conference championships. 

“We still have a lot of work to do in preparation for the conference championships the first week in May,” said Mistretta. “The team needs to continue to focus on their training to improve. In doing this, hopefully we can perform very well at the conference championship and secure a few regional qualifiers along the way.”

With the team built on a majority of newcomers, Mistretta hopes to guide them through tough times.

“This has been an interesting dynamic all year long to watch unfold,” said Mistretta. “Early in the season, the new faces brought a lot of new energy and excitement to the team. However, as we begin moving into the championship part of our season, the lack of leadership found in teams with a large numbers of seniors is beginning to show in some areas. We are managing this and helping to mentor our young athletes along this journey. It’s what we do.”

Mistretta shared how he hopes to have more events at the university in the years to come.

“We will always try to host the Strawberry Relays each year,” said Mistretta. “Sometimes, our scheduling doesn’t allow for it. However, I am committed to doing everything I can to have this meet each year. We are also hoping to have the dual meet against Southern every year as well.”

The team will look to carry the momentum  of topping the home meet to the LSU Alumni Gold on Saturday, April 21, in Baton Rouge. The Southland Conference Championships is on the horizon beginning on Friday, May 4.