(New Orleans, La.) Loyola University New Orleans student-athletes Paul Freese and Francesca Vaccaro were named to the Capital One Academic All-District Track & Field/Cross Country teams selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Paul Freese earned recognition after becoming the first male cross country NAIA Nationals qualifier for the Wolf Pack since 2009. He finished the 8K course in 27:48.51, the sixth fastest Nationals time in the Loyola annals. The junior qualified after finishing 10th in the men’s 8K race at the SSAC Championships with a personal best of 26:30.12. That was the fourth fastest mark in school history and was the catalyst behind Freese being named to the SSAC All-Conference team. It was also Freese’s third appearance on the school’s all-time top 10 list. The New Orleans native missed the beginning of the year as he recovered from injury but came on strong towards the end. He completed his first full race at the Crimson Classic where he ran 27:53 before besting that with a 26:53 mark at the Sand Shark Invitational. The result at Sand Shark was the eighth fastest 8K in the Loyola record books.
During track season, Freese set the 1500m school record with a time of 4:10.13 at the Black and Gold Invitational on May 3rd. He also ran the anchor leg for the school’s 4x800m relay team which set a Wolf Pack record of 8:00.26 at the SSAC Championship. Freese posted a season best in the 3000m race with a 9:38.83 mark at the Tulane Team Challenge. He also notched a 5000m time of 16:20.88 at the Southern Mississippi Invitational. Freese was named the LSWA Cross Country Athlete of the Year for the state of Louisiana. The history major also was named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete and a member of the SSAC All-Academic team for both cross country and track.
Francesca Vaccaro was named to the CoSida Capital One Academic All-District team after notching the third fastest women’s 5K time in Wolf Pack history when she ran the Sand Shark Invitational in 19:24 on October 26th. Vaccaro then placed 15th at the SSAC Championships with a 19:51 5K to qualify her for NAIA Nationals. The sophomore barely missed Nationals last season but improved her time by 36 seconds on the same course to ensure qualification this year. Once there, the Yorba Linda, California native ran the 10th fastest Nationals mark for a Loyola runner when she tallied a 20:50 time at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kansas. She finished seventh at the Fifth Annual Loyola Wolf Pack Invitational to help the Pack to a team championship in the first race of the season.
Vaccaro battled through injuries throughout track season to post a 1500m time of 5:27.98 at the SSAC Championship. The Yorba Linda, California native set a season high time of 12:01.27 in the 3000m at the USA Invitational. Vaccaro is in her second year at Loyola and is majoring in biochemistry. She was named to the SSAC All-Academic team for both cross country and track.
CoSida recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. 48 male and 46 female All-District honorees were selected. Those student-athletes will advance to the CoSida Capital One Academic All-America ballot.