LAREDO, Texas – Welcome to St. Mary’s, Jessica Waninger.

The junior transfer cross country runner won the Texas A&M International University Invitational on Saturday, finishing in 23 minutes, 40 seconds in the Rattlers’ season-opening meet.

St. Mary’s finished second as a team, showing significant strides since last season, when the Lady Rattlers finished fifth in the Heartland Conference.

Waninger, a Santa Claus, Ind., native, transferred this year from the University of Texas-Tyler, where she was one of the most prolific runners in school history. She was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2009 and was the team’s Most Valuable Runner both years on the squad.

She ran at a five-minute pace at the Texas A&M International Meet.

Also making an impressive debut for the Rattlers was Allison Manning, a freshman from Mansfield, Texas. Manning logged a fifth-place finish with a time of 25:39. Oliva Lara (Fr., El Paso, Texas) finished 10th (26:34).

St. Mary’s will run at the Texas Lutheran Invitational next Saturday morning.

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