By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports
The goal of every cross country runner in Louisiana is to be healthy and running his or her best at the end of the season – when it counts. That is why Loyola junior Tripp Roemer is all smiles after winning the D-III Region I Meet in Lafayette’s Acadiana Park last week.
“It felt great,” Roemer said. “I won the race by over a minute. It was a pretty hard course. It wasn’t a day for PRs.”
Roemer, who has a personal record of 15:53.80 at Byrd’s October Invitational, ran a 16:35.90 for the three-mile course. St. Louis’ Deacon Stantz was second with a 17:31.90.
But the best part for Roemer wasn’t winning the individual title; it was the fact that he led his Flyers to the team championship. The Flyers scored 35 points. St. Louis was second with 67 points.
“That was great, honestly,” Roemer said. “They have really brought me up. The best part of my day is going to practice and running with my teammates.”
He will get one more opportunity to run competitively with his teammates at the LHSAA State Cross Country Meet at Northwestern State University on Monday, Nov. 14th.
For Roemer, it will be an opportunity for him to see how far he has come in the last 365 days.
Last year, Roemer finished No. 17 in the LHSAA Class 3A state cross country meet with a time of 18:10.90.
“I didn’t place well last year,” Roemer said. “I wasn’t in the right mindset and just really starting to learn how to race competitively.”
The maturation for Roemer hasn’t included any magic tricks or shortcuts — only good, old-fashioned hard work.
“All this summer I was training really hard,” Roemer said. “It’s the hardest I’ve trained for any sport. It was far beyond the competitiveness I’ve experienced with soccer. I was really focused. That was new for me. I just hoped to be great this year. I’m proud of myself. I just want to end the season on a good note.”
Roemer should certainly be in the mix for a Division III state championship. With his best time of the season, Roemer is ranked No. 4. The favorite is Episcopal’s Sacha Dernoncourt, who has best of 15:31.52.
Just behind Roemer at No. 5 is the defending Class 3A state champion John Hall Hays of University Lab. Hays has a best this season of 16:03.24.
In other regional action, Parkway’s Gabe Falting led the Parkway Panthers to a runner-up finish at the Division I Region I Meet at Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston last Thursday.
Falting finished second overall, chasing Ruston’s regional champion Bryar Madden. Falting ran a 15:39, two seconds behind Madden.
Ruston won the team title with 35 points and Parkway finished as runner-up with 48 points.
Other Parkway Panthers making the all-region team by finishing in the top 25 include: Andrew Kent, Jesus Cordova, Noah Fox, and Alex Gomez, who finished No. 10-No. 13 respectively.
Freshmen Panthers Ben Ruliffson and Charles Ernest were also named to the all-region team. Ruliffson finished No. 15 with a time of 17:07, and Ernest finished No. 20 with a 17:20.
In the Division I Region I Girls’ division, C.E. Byrd was the runner-up to Ruston for the third straight year.
The Lady Jackets were led by junior Jenna Key, who has been battling with a nagging leg injury since the start of the season. Key finished No. 8 with a time of 19:17. Other Lady Jackets who made the All-Region team include: Laila Wells (No. 12, 20:07), Spencer Frierson (No.16, 20:29), and Mallory Swint (No. 23, 21:17).
Contact Jerry at email@example.com