Laredo, Texas – No matter who she talked to while preparing for her first season as St. Mary’s University’s cross country coach, Arlynda Flores kept hearing the same thing about senior runner Michelle Ornelas.

“Set a goal for her,” Flores recalled being told over and over again, “and she will beat it.”

One week into Ornelas’ cross-country career and she already has lived up to the billing.

Ornelas, a fifth-year senior who played soccer for four years at St. Mary’s, led the Rattlers with a seventh-place finish at Saturday’s Texas A&M International Invitational. Ornelas crossed in 21 minutes, 39 seconds to help St. Mary’s finished third as a team.

For Ornelas, all she did was what everyone said she would – beat the goal Flores set for her entering the meet.

“I told her to beat her practice time and that’s exactly what she did,” Flores said. “She beat it by a good minute-and-a-half.”

This despite the fact that Ornelas (Arlington, Texas) had never before run cross country.

“I’m excited to coach her,” Flores said. “She kind of sets the pace for the team. Her coming in a minute-and-a-half faster than everyone, everyone else beat their time as well.”

Ornelas’ younger sister, Ariel, a freshman, placed 12th with a time of 22:45.

Raquel Quintero finished 15th (24:22), while Kristyn Mathewson finished 16th (24:37), Alyssa Alfaro placed 19th (25:52) and Melissa Solis finished 20th (26:47).

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