Women’s cross country ends in 10th in Southern Stampede

Hallie Hocker

Taking the first steps of the largest Southern Stampede meet in history, the Missouri Southern women’s cross country team started the day with the 3K run, the first of many cross country races Sept. 17.

Approximately 1,600 athletes gathered that day to compete in collegiate and high school competition.

The Lions placed 10th out of 35 teams, which included several Division I schools.

Patty Vavra, head women’s cross country coach said it wasn’t the best race this year. However, she said as the team had a “really tough” week of practice before the Stampede, but they look forward to the future benefits.

“We put in some hard work,” she said. “We’re looking to see what our performance is in late October.”

Competing in the collegiate women’s 3K were 295 athletes.

“It was totally different than the first meet because we had to get out a lot faster so we wouldn’t get pushed back,” said senior Erin Click.

She said it pushed the team because there were a lot more people running the whole time as opposed to last week when it only Southern and the University of Arkansas competing against each other.

“When you run with that big of a group, you have to be aggressive, otherwise you’re just running with the rest of the group,” said Jamie Burnham, assistant women’s cross country coach. “It’s real easy to get complacent with where you’re at.”

Sophomore Kelly O’Toole said the second mile has been difficult as a team.

“The first mile is pretty good at the start,” O’Toole said. “It’s just harder for us to stay together during the second mile.”

Click led the pack with a 48th-place finish in 18:56.30.

Freshman Kara Eckard improved her time by 1:47 from the meet at UA. She finished 55th with 19:03.70.

O’Toole finished with a 62nd-place time of 19:10.90. Senior Kelly Fanning finished 85th with 19:30.00. Freshman Krista Merrill came in 97th with 19:38.00.

Sophomore Abigail Adams finished in 19:59.20. Freshman Kari Fritchie timed in at 20:03.70.

Vavra said with the help of great volunteers, Southern Stampede went smoothly.

“It was great for everyone,” she said. “Great for the school, great for the program and you really couldn’t have asked for better weather. The course was in great shape, and it rained at the right time.”

Next, the Lions will compete Oct. 1 at the Loyola Invitational in Chicago.

This allows them two weeks of training.

“I think training has increased because we’re so competitive this year,” Fanning said. “It’s hard for us on easy runs to go easy because we’re competitive and push the pace. But that’s a good thing because it helps make us better.”

Vavra and Burnham said training intensity will increase this week.

“We’re starting to get to the point where we want to be,” Click said. “We’ll train really hard this week, and I think our freshmen are going to help us get where we want to be by conference.”