Runners finish fourth in Missouri-Illinois Border War

Training started to pay off for the Lions when they claimed fourth place at the Missouri-Illinois Border Wars Oct. 8 in Edwardsville, Ill.

“It was the best team race we’ve had,” said Patty Vavra, head women’s cross country coach. “We saw a small bit of the potential of what we can do – the first glimmering light of how well we do.”

Senior Erin Click led the way with a 13th-place finish in 18:59.02. Freshman Kara Eckard came in 22nd with a time of 19:11.44. Sophomore Kelly O’Toole wasn’t too far behind with a time of 19:17.91 and a 27th place finish. Senior Kelly Fanning took 36th with a time of 19:28.93.

Meanwhile, freshman Krista Merrill completed the top five for the Lions with 19:59.22. Freshman Kari Fritchie finished with a time of 20:26.22.

With 140 points, Southern was 15 points behind Central Missouri State University, the top MIAA finisher and the runner-up to Washington University’s 78-point win.

Twenty-two teams competed in the race.

“It was a better meet for us team-wise,” said Jamie Burnham, assistant women’s cross country coach. “Individually it was a good confidence booster. Everybody finally ran what they knew they could. Hopefully, that will carry over a couple of weeks until conference.”

Fanning said the race was good because the team got to see how it compares to the other schools in the conference that were there.

Vavra said there was an obvious difference in performances compared to last week’s meet in Chicago.

“The whole team improved performances and looked much stronger this week than they have previously all season,” Vavra said.

She said the biggest improvement came from the team running the back half of the three miles well. However, the team’s next two races will be 6K instead of 5K.

Vavra said with the team getting out well and finishing the last mile well, the second mile is crucial now, which is typical of conditioning.

“We’re doing more speed workouts and strides, which will help us with the second mile since the second mile is usually the slowest,” Click said.

Vavra said the Border War was great for confidence in training.

“Sometimes the workouts are hard and you don’t do good in races,” she said. “It’s encouraging then to run well in the meet before conference.”

The next meet for the Lions is the MIAA Conference Championships on Oct. 22 at Pittsburg State University.

Fanning said the team will have to stick together during the race.

“It will be more of a foot-speed race because there are not really any hills,” Click said.

In preparation for the adjustment to PSU’s flatter course, O’Toole said the team is working on running faster on shorter steady states than the longer ones they were doing slower before.

For the race, Click said everyone will have to run their best race of the year and key off other people in the conference.

“It’s really important mentally to have good performances going in to the conference championship and run into the race and know we can still get better,” Vavra said.