An unsung hero that has been on the scene for some time now has finally emerged out of the crowd. This year, she faced stout competition and ran impeccable marks deserving of bragging rights. Few can match up to the progression demonstrated by St. Thomas Aquinas' Ava Mistretta.
Mistretta's story begins at Trafton Academy, where she discovered her passion for running. After some persuading by the coaching staff, Ava was sold.
"After I begged my mom, she let me join the track team in the 1st grade," Mistretta said. "And cross country in 2nd grade."
From that point, Mistretta competed for both Trafton Academy and Southeast Louisiana Roadrunner for AAU alongside her sister Amelia. Though neither qualified for an AAU Junior Olympics, both did make it to the national stage for cross country, with Ava's best finish coming in at 70th.
How did she get here?
"I've always loved running and as I have gotten older, I have grown to love it more each year," Mistretta said. "Entering high school, I knew the competition would get more challenging, so instead of taking the summer off, I trained more than I usually would."
Mistretta trained all summer and the results showed a significant drop in times from her eighth grade year. She ran below 19 minutes in four unique races and even placed 4th at the 2022 LHSAA D4 Cross Country State Meet, which boasted some of the best talent in the state.
Ava Mistretta at the St. Joseph's Invitational
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The three runners that finished ahead of her at the state meet were Emma Bourg, the fastest finisher at the state meet, Madison Suire, and Sara Godley. All three of these runners are highly reputable and to finish among them is an achievement in itself. In addition to this, Mistretta was one of the top overall freshmen who competed at the state meet. She summed it all up perfectly,
"I worked very hard all season leading up to the state meet, and after finishing 4th, I knew all the hard work had paid off. Going into the season, I did not expect to run the times that I ran, so being one of the fastest freshmen at the meet was a big accomplishment."
St. Thomas Aquinas' Ava Mistretta
Mistretta appears to be focused on self-improvement rather than validation from beating other runners, as she said, "My main goal is to run better than I did last season." A very respectable mindset for a rising runner.