Cross Country Heads to Chile Pepper Festival
BATON ROUGE – After second-place overall finishes at the McNeese Cowboy Stampede, the LSU men’s and women’s cross country teams will carry momentum into Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday when they compete in the Chile Pepper Festival at the University of Arkansas cross country course located inside Agri Park.
The men will commence the action, racing the 8k course at 9:45 a.m. CDT proceeding with the women’s 5k at 10:30 a.m.
The men return five runners that competed in the Festival last year, including juniors Bryan Mutell, Philip Primeaux and William Wiesler; and sophomores Aaron Koenck and Travis Pope. Without former Tiger Roger Cooke, who led the team in last year’s race, Primeaux and Mutell return as the second and third-place finishers on the team looking to lead the pack.
Junior Philip Dempsey and freshmen Buck Baker, Blair Henderson and Joseph St. Cyr join the five returning round out the men’s squad.
“We improved a lot between the first and second meet,” Primeaux said. “With a young team, we will have to have people step up. The Chile Pepper Festival will be a good opportunity to race against quality competition and see where we are.”
The Lady Tigers made history in Fayetteville last year, finishing fourth overall with 174 points, notching the best team finish in LSU cross country history at the Chile Pepper Festival. The women return juniors Andria Aguilar and Michelle Mobley from last year’s squad.
Aguilar and Mobley will be followed by an abundance of youth, sophomore Morgan Schuetz; redshirt freshmen Meghan Charbonnet, Chaiss Matthews and Katie Stevenson; and freshmen Danielle Avery, Jenna Walker and Ashley Welborn are prepared to round out the women’s pack.
Aguilar believes that she should constantly be leading by example, which she’s shown in strides thus far, crossing the finish line first in her squad and top-20 overall in both contests this year.
“When you constantly have someone telling you to do something, you never take personal responsibility for what you’re doing,” Aguilar expressed on her style of leadership. “Our sport hinges upon personal accountability. By leading by example, I hope to show the younger girls how to improve while allowing them agency to do so. I really think the only way you’ll get better is when you make the choice yourself.”
The field will be composed of 43 collegiate teams. Notable teams include two schools nationally ranked in the USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll as SEC rival Arkansas ranks sixth (men) and ninth (women), while Villanova, representing the Big East Conference, ranks 27th (men) and 11th (women). Baylor, the host university of the 2013 NCAA South Central Regional and in-state foes UL-Monroe and University of New Orleans will also field squads for this weekend’s race.
Cross country head coach Khadevis Robinson understands what it takes to compete against strong competition and operate on courses of different terrain.
“The kids have to continue to work hard in practice, continue to believe in themselves, develop and come together as a team. If they do those three things, we should be fine no matter what course we run.” Robinson explained.
Following the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will travel east to Tuscaloosa, Ala., where they will compete in the Crimson Classic on Oct. 18. The meet will be held at the Harry Pritchett Recreational Complex with the women’s race starting at 5:00 p.m. CDT and the men’s race immediately following at 5:30 p.m.