Track and Field team to host MSSU Invitational today

The Missouri Southern track and field teams will continue their outdoor seasons today, hosting the MSSU Invitational.

Throwing events will begin this afternoon at 2:30 p.m., while running events will begin at 4 p.m..

“It will be good to have a home meet,” said Tom Rutledge, men’s head track and field coach. “It will just be a good weekend to grab your lawn chairs, absorb some rays, and watch some track and field.”

On the men’s side, Division I schools such as the University of Arkansas and Oklahoma State University will be competing.

The team also sent a small group of distance runners to the University of Missouri Relays on March 29.

“It’s been a long year for our distance runners,” Rutledge said. “Our lack of depth catches up to us sometimes.

“It makes it tough, but we make it through. We’re pretty good.”

Sophomore Brennan Benkert finished 12th in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:07.

Senior Ryan Arthur finished 15th and was followed by freshman Jarkko Jarvenpaa, who finished 31st with a time of 15:32.

Freshman Aki Nummela finished eighth in the 1,500 meter run with a time of 3:56.

Sophomore Nick Heberle is still out with an Achilles injury.

“Nick [Heberle] has a leg injury hanging on him,” Rutledge said. “I wish he was running for us. He has a great attitude and personality.

“I love him.”

The team has two major goals for the season: winning conference and to get as many athletes qualified for nationals as possible.

“Getting to nationals is the toughest part,” Rutledge said. “Our other goals would be to succeed and we expect to improve.”

“Overall, I’m looking forward to the outdoor season. It will be competitive. April is a busy month for us.”

The team is thinking positive, too.

“I think we have a legitimate shot at winning conference,” Benkert said. “We have some key guys that are either back from injury or done competing in other sports and are ready to help us out.

“We also have some guys that will score in events that we didn’t even compete in last year, so I like our odds”

On the women’s side, schools such as SBU, Pittsburg State University, Evangel, and Arkansas will be competing.

The team’s overall goal is to win the triple crown. The triple crown consists of the conference title in cross country, indoor track, and indoor track. The women’s team has already earned the title in cross country and indoor track.

“The goal is always to do well,” said Patty Vavra, women’s head track and field coach.

“We also want to qualify more athletes for the national championship. We really got a good start at Florida State.”

The team will also have sophomore Ashley Bunch back from a injury sustained in the beginning of the indoor season.

“Ashley [Bunch] is back to running and competing,” Vavra said. “Danielle [Oliver] is training, but not competing yet.

“She may run tonight, but it will be unattached.”

Students are encouraged to attend tonight’s meet. Admission is free.

“It’s great entertainment. We have great athletes.,” Vavra said. “People won’t be disappointed.”

Both teams will be in action next at the D-2 Challenge (Emporia, Kan.) or the Wichita State KT Woodman on April 10-12. The next home meet will be the Bob Laptad /Bill Williams Invitational April 25.