Cross Country Off and Running

Posted August 29, 2014 / Last updated September 29, 2014

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Veteran cross country runners enjoy the daily ritual of welcoming the 8th-graders to practice with a tunnel on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Veteran cross country runners enjoy the daily ritual of welcoming the pre-freshmen to practice with a tunnel on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Returning five of your top seven runners from a team that placed third in state is plenty of reason for optimism. But Jesuit cross country Coach Rudy Horvath ’86 has even more reason to be excited about this year’s campaign.

On Saturday, Aug. 23, Horvath held an informal “Red White and Blue” intrasquad run on the old Lakefront course. The top two finishers overall were sophomore Eli Sisung and junior Carlos Zervigon. Here’s the kicker: neither is among the returning runners from last year’s squad.

“Eli is just a guy who has improved tremendously,” said Horvath. “And I couldn’t be happier for Carlos.” Zervigon was relegated to a bike for most of last year as he rehabbed from surgery to relieve compartment syndrome in both shins.

The “newcomers” will join seniors Matthews Vargas, Michael Schwing, Patrick LaCour and Ben D’Antonio, along with junior Johnny Laforge, to make up the core of a potential state contender. Vargas, Schwing and LaCour all placed among the top 30 runners at last year’s state championship meet at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

“I hope we’ll be in the hunt by November,” says Horvath. “But make no mistake about it, Catholic High is the team to beat. And St. Paul and Brother Martin, as always, will be right up there. We’re going to need some guys to really step up if we’re going to run with the big dogs.”

“That said,” Horvath continues, “I’m very excited about our group.”

The road to Natchitoches began for this group in June, when returning team members started running four times a week at 6:00 in the morning. Currently, with the arrival of a new crop of pre-freshmen, Horvath has about 80 students participating in regular work-outs. Of those, he expects four or five additional runners to seriously challenge the seven previously mentioned for the seven coveted spots at the state meet in Natchitoches this fall.

In the meantime, the team is gearing up for the start of a lengthy meet season which begins with the Holy Cross/Dominican Invitational on Sept. 6, the first of several races on the home turf of City Park. Also on the agenda are road trips to Baton Rouge (Episcopal Round Table Run, Sept. 13) Pensacola (Gulf Coast Stampede, Sept.r 27), and Jackson (Mississippi College Invitational, Oct. 4).

Horvath is assisted by Scott Thompson and Nick Asprodites ’02.