Men run to 18th place in muddy race

Running through mud, muck and five inches of water in some spots, the Missouri Southern men’s cross country team placed 18th out of 24 teams Saturday at the Oklahoma State Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla.

“We won’t make excuses,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s cross country coach. “It was a terrible mess, but that’s OK; everybody had to run through it.”

At the end of the race, the Lions finished two spots behind Central Missouri State University and one behind Drury University.

Freshman Dustin Dixon said those were teams Southern should’ve beat.

While there were 238 individuals competing, only 160 competed on a team.

Out of the teams’ individual standings, the Lions finished as follows: Dustin Miller, junior, 54th, 27:07; Kyle Davis, sophomore, 65th, 27:29; Bret Musser, freshman, 95th, 27:58; Dustin Dixon, freshman, 28:30; Marcus Walton, junior, 28:54; Derek Wright, freshman, 29:10; and Tyler Chiartano, freshman, 30:29.

Miller said there was good competition, but the Lions had trouble staying together.

“We didn’t maintain the race,” Musser said. “We were supposed to pack up and run, but that ran down the tube.”

“We’ve got to run better as a team,” Rutledge said. “We ran as individuals, and when you’ve got a lot of young faces, it’s difficult. But they understand and hopefully they’ll get together at conference.”

He said the men will total 90 miles in practice this week.

Rutledge said the mileage is high and they are still doing an intense workout. He said the men are pushing to the limit, which is why they have some small injuries, but they will emerge as a better team.

“I see improvements everyday,” Rutledge said. “They’re a lot of fun to work with. I just hope they can catch it soon.”

Saturday, the Lions will be competing in the Missouri-Illinois Border War in Edwardsville, Ill.

“We’re going to be more team-oriented this weekend,” Miller said. “We’re going to have a number five man step up.”

This will also be another chance to compete against CMSU.

“This weekend is important because we have to see if we can pack up and see how we stand against Central,” Dixon said.

The men said their goal is to get the top four Lions in front of CMSU’s No. 2 man because there is a minute and a half gap between the Mules first and second runners.

After the Border War, the Lions will have a week off before heading over to Pittsburg State University for the MIAA Championships Oct. 22.

“They’re good guys and they’re doing what I ask,” Rutledge said. “It’ll be a feat for seven freshmen and a handful of upper classmen to pull it off (win the championship), but I think they can do it.”