Women fare well at Arkansas, get ready for big home meet

The womens cross country team gathers at the race in Arkansas.

Special to The Chart

The women’s cross country team gathers at the race in Arkansas.

The Missouri Southern women’s cross-country team opened its season last week with a meet at the University of Arkansas.

“It was a challenging competition, but a great opportunity,” Coach Patty Vavra said. “The meet gave us a nice look at the team. It was a nice test to see what we need to work on.”

Sophomore Kimi Shank placed 3rd with a time of 13:52.

“Kimi ran a lot better than we thought she might,” Vavra said. “The hard work she put in this summer really showed.”

Sophomore Courtney Waltbillig was the next Lion across the finish line with a time of 15:04. The team had 5 runners finish within six seconds of each other.

“We did a really nice job running as a pack,” Vavra said. “We just need to close the gap between the group and Kimi. Our strength will have to feed off of each other.”

Southern will be hosting the Southern Stampede on Saturday. The women will begin the day’s events with the race starting at 9 a.m. with the men following. The women will be running a 5k course and the men an 8k.

There will be at least 40 college teams running in the Stampede and approximately 100 high schools. The four-state area is well represented in the Stampede with schools such as the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma Baptist and Pittsburg State University. Many other schools are expected to attend due to the significance of the Stampede.

“Southern is hosting the national championship, so this is a preview of the course,” Vavra said. “It is the premier cross country event.”

Students are encouraged to come out and watch the Stampede. Admission is free and the race does not last long. The course is open for students to stand along, and the inside of Hughes Stadium gives a nice view of the course.

“Students can stand anywhere, as long as they aren’t impeding the runner,” Vavra said. “The term ‘stampede’ is very fitting. The Southern Stampede is unlike any other sporting event.

“Come cheer on the runners.”