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Cross Country: Rice, Devitt Claim Individual Titles At Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational

Anna Katherine Devitt

Women claim top four spots to earn team title; men finish second in battle of regionally-ranked squads

LAFAYETTE – Matthew Rice and Anna Katherine Devitt each cruised to individual titles in their respective races and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns cross country team earned a first-place finish in the women’s 5K race and a second-place performance in the men’s 4-mile event at the 2014 Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational on Friday at Acadiana Park.
Competing in consecutive weeks for the first time this season, Louisiana claimed the top four spots in the women’s event, scoring 20 points and outdistancing second-place McNeese State, ranked No. 14 in the South Central Region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). New Orleans (112), Southern (116), Nicholls State (123) and Louisiana Tech (123) followed in the team standings in the 5K race that attracted eight schools. 

On the men’s side, the Ragin’ Cajuns were edged by McNeese State in a battle between teams ranked in the USTFCCCA South Central Region. The Cowboys, ranked No. 8 in the region, placed five runners in the top eight to score 24 points and edge Louisiana, ranked No. 14, which scored 33 points. New Orleans placed third overall with 98 points followed by Northwestern State (98), Nicholls State (135) and Southern (178).
"It was nice to have a home meet and not have to get out on the road," Louisiana head coach Lon Badeaux said after hosting the first meet in two years. "I thought our top four runners on the men’s and women’s side did excellent in the race. There are a few things that we’re going to have to fix in the next couple of weeks heading into the (Sun Belt) conference meet. If we can fix what we need to, I think we have a good shot at doing well."
Devitt covered the 5K course for the Ragin’ Cajuns in a season-best 17 minutes, 32.40 seconds and finished over 12 seconds faster than teammate Ashley Irwin, who finished in a season-best 17:44.70. Danielle Castaldi (18:48.60) placed third with Kelci Lyons (18:55.40) finishing fourth.
The freshman duo of Courtney Broussard (19:40.70) and Lindsay LaGarde (19:47.30) finished 12th and 13th respectively for Louisiana with Claire Hodges (19:56.50) finishing 15th, Kaylei Esfeller (20:32.50) 23rd and Camille Barnett (20:48.00) 25th.
"The course ran fast today," Badeaux said. "This is the toughest course we’ve run on all year and we still ran times comparable to what we’ve run all year. That’s very encouraging."
Rice, who claimed top honors among Division I runners last week at the FSU Invitational, won his second consecutive race for the Ragin’ Cajuns after covering the 4-mile event in 19:48.19.
Freshman Bryce Robinson was fourth overall for the Louisiana with a time of 19:52.22 followed by Beau Robinson (20:01.86) who was seventh. Logan Pearce (20:25.99) placed 10th overall for the Cajuns with Sean Bezdek (20:39.50) finishing 11th, Freshman Logan LaGarde 21:16.30) 15th and Jacob Chicola 21:27.06) 16th.
Dylan Heck placed 18th overall for Louisiana with a time of 21:31.01, Scott Brewster (21:45.56) placed 19th, Trey Bonin (21:49.98) was 20th and Christian Bergeron (22:30.38) 28th.
"Matt Rice is running great and is really coming around right now," Badeaux said. "I like the fact that our No. 1 (runner) on the women’s side keeps going back and forth from week to week. Everyone is doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. If they keep doing that, we’re going to be just fine."
Louisiana will return to action on Nov. 2 when it competes at the Sun Belt Conference Championships at the USS Alabama Memorial Park in Mobile, Ala

October 17, 2014
Lafayette, La. (Acadiana Park)
1. Louisiana 20;
2. McNeese State 45; 3. New Orleans 112; 4. Southern 116; 5. Nicholls State 123; 6. Louisiana Tech 123; Northwestern State and Louisiana College did not score.
1. Anna Katherine Devitt, 17:32.40; 2. Ashley Irwin, 17:44.70; 3. Danielle Castaldi, 18:48.60; 4. Kelci Lyons, 18:55.40; 12. Courtney Broussard, 19:40.70; 13. Lindsay LaGarde, 19:47.30; 15. Claire Hodges, 19:56.50; 23. Kaylei Esfeller, 20:32.50; 25. Camille Barnett, 20:48.00.
1. McNeese State 24; 2. Louisiana 33; 3. New Orleans 98; 4. Northwestern State 98; 5. Nicholls State 135; 6. Southern 178. Louisiana College did not score
1. Matthew Rice, 19:48.19; 4. Bryce Robinson, 19:52.22; 7. Beau Robinson, 20:01.86; 10. Logan Pearce, 20:25.99; 11. Sean Bezdek, 20:39.50; 15. Logan LaGarde, 21:16.30; 16. Jacob Chicola, 21:27.06; 18 . Dylan Heck, 21:31.01; 19. Scott Brewster, 21:45.56; 20. Trey Bonin, 21:49.98; 28. Christian Bergeron, 22:30.38.