LSU Gold

Houston Franks Season 2023

Houston Franks
Cross Country Coach
(225) 578-8627
Tupelo, Miss.
Alma Mater
Mississippi St. (1998)

LSU’s distance program has flourished in the past four seasons under Houston Frank’s direction since joining as the assistant coach for LSU track and field’s mid-distance and distance squads in addition to head coaching duties for the cross country team in the summer of 2019. Franks will be heading into his fifth year coaching for the Tigers during the 2023-24 season.

The 2023 cross-country season saw Franks and the Lady Tigers tie the program’s highest finish of third at the NCAA South Central Regional. This came a season after leading LSU to the program’s first third-place finish in 2022.

Ella Chesnut finished the season as just the third Tiger in program history to reach the NCAA Championships after finishing in fourth at the NCAA South Central Regional with a personal-best time of 20:18.4 in the 6k. Chesnut’s fourth-place finish at regionals made her the highest regional finisher in program history, and gave her USTFCCCA All-Region honors. The Houma, La., native went on to finish 196th at the NCAA Championships.

Sophomore Michaela Rose was also crowned a USTFCCCA South Central All-Region member for the second season in a row after finishing 18th at the NCAA South Central Regional with a 6k time of 21:03.7.

Franks had 14 athletes during the 2023 track season that registered a total of 23 LSU top-10 marks over the course of the season including school records from Michaela Rose, Davis Bove, Alex Selles, Lorena Rangel-Batres, and both of the men’s and women’s DMR teams.

He coached the 800-meter phenom in Michaela Rose to just the third NCAA 800m title in program history. Rose became the only women to ever run sub-two minutes three times in their collegiate career, needing only her sophomore season (2023) to reach this accomplishment. Her third and final sub-two-minute time at the NCAA Outdoor Championships of 1:59.83 was also her fourth Mike A. Myers Stadium (Texas) record of the season. Earlier in the season Rose ran the second-fastest 800m time in collegiate history and the LSU program record of 1:59.08, only behind the 2021 Bowerman winner and Olympic-gold medalist Athing Mu (1:57.03). Her other sub-two-minute time of 1:59.73 came at the SEC Outdoor Championships where she won her second SEC title of the year. Rose’s 2023 outdoor season included six of the eight fastest times in the nation for the 800m.

Rose’s historic season led her to being named a semifinalist for The Bowerman, LSU’s first distance member reach the SF stage. Rose led the Tigers in points with 10 total out of the team’s 26 at the NCAA Outdoor Championship. The Virginia native also ran the second fastest 1500-meter time in LSU history with 4:11.98 on the same weekend she ran 1:59.08 in the 800. The sophomore closed out her outdoor season with a sixth-place finish in the USATF Championship final with a time of 2:01.47 in the 800.

Indoors, Rose was on record setting pace every weekend also. She set the indoor program record and fourth-fastest indoor 800m time in collegiate history of 2:00.18 at the Boston University – David Hemery Valentine Invite. She took third at the indoor NCAA’s with a time of 2:00.85 in the 800, which was just her first individual appearance at an NCAA Championship meet.

Michaela Rose closed out a signature season as the LSWA Women’s Runner of the Year and many other accolades such as two SEC titles, two First Team All-SEC nods, two First Team All-American nods, and two weekly SEC honors.

The 2022 cross-country season for the Lady Tigers was the best yet in program history. Coach Franks led the women to the highest finish in program history with third at the NCAA South Central Regional, just one spot out of an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. Lorena Rangel-Batres and Michaela Rose led the way for LSU, both earning USTFCCCA All-Region honors for their top-25 finishes in the region.

Leading the Tigers throughout the season was Rangel-Batres, closing the season with a 20th-place finish and a 6k time of 21:04.5 at the NCAA South Central Regional. The native of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, was named to the 2022 All-LSWA Women’s Cross-Country Team for the second season in a row. Rangel-Batres also opened up her stellar season with an individual win at the FSU Invitational with a 5k personal-best time of 17:13.0.

In her first cross-country season ever, freshman Michaela Rose was named the 2022 LSWA Women’s Freshman of the Year as the top freshman in the state of Louisiana. Rose was also named to the 2022 All-LSWA Women’s Cross-Country Team. She finished 25th at her first NCAA South Regional Championship with a time of 21:15.7 in the 6k.

Jackson Martingayle who led the men’s team much throughout the 2022 season was named the 2022-23 Southeastern Conference H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the most prestigious honor the Southeastern Conference gives out.

The 2022 track and field season saw Coach Franks lead both senior Katy-Ann McDonald and freshman Michaela Rose to two of the best 800-meter seasons in LSU history.

Katy-Ann McDonald found herself reaching new heights in the 800 and the 1500 during the 2022 season. She earned two USTFCCCA All-American nods for the 800, including an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to earn First Team honors. Outdoors, McDonald clocked the school record of 4:12.30 in the 1500 and the No. 2 time in school history for the 800 of 2:00.98. Indoors she was able to clock the No. 3 time in school history of 2:02.85.

Freshman Michaela Rose showed she was one of the premier track and field performers in the nation in her first season with LSU, earning 2021-22 SEC Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year honors. Rose finished with bronze in the 800 meter at the USATF U20 Outdoor Championship to go along with a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles. Rose earned multiple USTFCCCA All-American nods for the 4×400-meter relay, while also racking up Second Team All-SEC honors for the 800. The Virginia native finished the year with the No. 8 800 time in LSU outdoor history (2:02.49) and the No. 10 time in LSU indoor history (2:04.70).

The 2021 cross country season was another tremendously successful season for the women as the Tigers placed fourth at the NCAA South Central Regionals for the best finish in program history at the meet. The Tigers were led by all-region honorees Katy-Ann McDonald and Lorena Rangel on the women’s side, and Davis Bove picked up all-region honors on the men’s side. McDonald finished sixth at the South Central regional meet to earn herself a bid to the 2021 NCAA Championships. McDonald’s sixth place finish at the regional meet matched the best in program history, and she became only the second women’s runner from LSU to qualify for the NCAA Championships in cross country.

Franks had six athletes during the 2021 track season that registered a total of 11 LSU top-10 marks over the course of the season including school records from Davis Bove in the mile and Alicia Stamey in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Bove clocked a time of 3:57.49 at the Music City Challenge in February to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, and the 3,000 meter steeplechase duo of Alicia Stamey (10:18.28) and Sara Funderburk (10:19.15) clocked the first and third fastest times in program history at the LSU Invitational.

Bove also registered LSU top 10 times in the indoor 3,000 meter run (8:00.34) and outdoor 1,500 meter run (3:44.18), and Stamey had another LSU top 10 mark in the indoor 3,000 meters (9:48.41). Lorena Rangel’s personal best of 4:19.98 in the 1,500 meters was the fourth fastest in program history, and Katy-Ann McDonald clocked a best of 2:01.67 in an LSU uniform that was the fifth fastest in LSU history. Eric Coston (8:02.15/3,000m), Shelby Spoor (9:47.53/3,000m & 17:19.99/5,000) were the other two athletes that clocked all-time marks as well.

The women’s cross country team had its most successful season in a long time in 2020 that concluded with a fifth-place finish at the SEC Championships. The SEC meet was hosted at the University Club in Baton Rouge and the Tigers came away with their best placing at the conference meet since 1999. Katy-Ann McDonald was named to the All-SEC Second Team and Shelby Spoor was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. McDonald became the first runner to achieve that feat since 2012, and Spoor is the first freshman in program history to earn all-freshman honors on the women’s side.

The women also won the 5k open race at the Florida State Invitational on October 2 with a team score of 27, and they finished second at the Arturo Barrios Invitational ahead of four other Power 5 programs. The men’s squad matched its 2019 finish at the SEC Championships with an eighth-place finish at the 2020 conference meet in Baton Rouge. The men’s squad was led all season by Davis Bove and Eric Coston.

During the 2020 indoor track season, Franks helped Katy-Ann McDonald (800 meters), Julia Palin (3,000 meters) and Davis Bove (800 meters) register top-10 LSU marks. McDonald circled the track four times at the Iowa State Classic in a personal best time of 2:04.59 to claim the ninth-fastest time in LSU history in the event; McDonald captured silver at the SEC Championships in the 800 meter run. Palin ran a PR of 9:46.99 at the Razorback Invitational on February 1 to stake claim to the fifth-fastest time in program history. Alicia Stamey also PR’d in the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:58.49 under Franks for the eighth-fastest readout in the LSU record book.

Bove ran a PR of 4:03.97 in the mile run at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational on February 15 to place 28th overall and clock the seventh-fastest time in LSU history. Two weeks later he became the first LSU male runner to score in the mile run at the SEC Championships since 2010 with a seventh-place showing.

Franks made an immediate impact on LSU’s cross country program in the fall of 2019 as he had three runners – Eric Coston, Davis Bove, and Katy-Ann McDonald – earn all-region honors. The men’s squad registered an eighth place finish at both the SEC meet and regional meet to mark the highest finish in program history since 2007 and 2008, respectively, at each of those meets. Franks was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Women’s Coach of the Year for his efforts, and his athletes – Coston (Male Runner of the Year), Bove (Freshman Runner of the Year) and Adele Broussard (Freshman Runner of the Year) – were also honored by the LSWA.

Coston and Bove led the squad all fall long. Coston was LSU’s top finisher at all five meets he competed at and Bove earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors at back-to-back meets in mid-September becoming the first runner in program history to achieve that feat. Jackson Martingayle was named the SEC Men’s Co-Runner of the Week on Sept. 3, 2019 after he ran to a fifth-place showing at the at the McNeese Opener with a 6k time of 18:33.2; he was the first male runner in program history to earn the award. Bove was named to the 2019 SEC All-Freshman team after he registered a 23rd place showing at the conference meet in his debut season.

The women’s squad was led by sophomore Katy-Ann McDonald in 2019. She paced the women at all five meets she competed at and earned all-regional honors to close out the season as she narrowly missed a bid to the NCAA Championships as an individual. Her 14th place showing at the NCAA South Central Regional was the fourth best by a woman in program history. The future for LSU cross country bodes well as the Tigers will return all but one runner from the 2019 season who factored into LSU’s team scores throughout the season.

On the track, Franks has a solid history of coaching distance runners. His latest endeavor included training the 2019 NCAA indoor runner up in the 800 meters, Marco Arop. Arop ran a time of 1:47.00 at the Birmingham CrossPlex in March to earn his silver medal on the national stage; his season best time indoors of 1:45.90 was the second fastest in the NCAA during the indoor season. Outdoors, Arop went sub 1:47 twice, including a season best of 1:45.50 at the Crimson Tide Invitational to claim gold. The 1:45.50 also made him the second fastest NCAA runner outdoors based off time.

Franks trained Rhianwedd Price-Weimer and Marta Freitas to back-to-back NCAA titles in the 1,500 meter run in 2015 and 2016. Price-Weimer won the NCAA title in the 1,500 meters in 2015 as a sophomore with a winning time of 4:09.56. In 2016, Freitas made it two straight titles in the event for Mississippi State with a winning time of 4:09.53. Freitas competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 1,500 meters for Portugal and she owns the Portuguese national record in the mile with a personal best of 4:22.45.

He was named the 2016 USTFCCCA South Region Coach of the Year during the cross country season for leading the Bulldogs’ women’s team to the NCAA South Region crown before registering the best finish in program history at the NCAA Championships (15th place). That 2016 squad featured a Mississippi State record of five All-Region honorees, each whom finished in the top 25 of the regional meet, and the Bulldogs were the top finishing SEC team in the nation that year.

Prior to Starkville, Franks spent five years at Southwest Missouri State University (1999-2004). He led his women’s teams to three Missouri Valley Conference titles, and during his last three years, the Bears’ women’s squad finished in the top four at the NCAA Midwest Regionals each year. He was a three-time MVC Coach of the Year in women’s cross country.

Franks competed collegiately for Mississippi State from 1994-98 and he earned his undergraduate degree in the spring of 1998 in education; a year later, he received his master’s in sports administration from Mississippi State as well. He is joined in Baton Rouge by his wife, Meggan, and their two children – Madison and Patrick.