Cross country teams set to host annual Stampede

Freshmen rose to the occasion at Missouri Southern’s first cross country meet Sept. 9 at the University of Arkansas.

With Southern and UA being the only teams competing, the finish times were split with UA finishing ahead of Southern in both men’s and women’s.

Sophomore Kyle Davis was the lone Lion to break the ranks of the Razorbacks with a 10th place time of 20:48.05, beating out UA’s Brian Roe.

Freshman Bret Musser was the second of Southern’s squad to cross the finish line. He did it in 21:29.74. Then Dustin Dixon, freshman, finished in 21:37.95; Dustin Miller, junior, in 21:47.17; Ryan Arthur, sophomore, in 22:25.44; Lucas Plocher, senior, in 22:59.16; Derek Wright, freshman, in 23:04.79; Marcus Walton, junior, in 23:14.35 and Tyler Chiartano, freshman, in 23:14.90.

Head men’s cross country coach Tom Rutledge said depending on freshmen and sophomores is difficult for a coach.

However, he said he has a great group of men he believes will be successful.

“There’s something about these guys,” Rutledge said. “I’ve gone into the season with veteran teams and not felt like this.”

Davis said the team is looking better than last year.

“Everybody is really tough and locked in together on the team,” he said.

Davis said they bond really well and encourage each other.

He said they could have a bad day, and Rutledge would find a positive point about it.

“Everyday he’s motivating us,” Davis said. “If he has an off day it’s not in front of us. He’s gung-ho all the time. He’s very good at what he does.”

Rutledge thinks the team has a great group of freshman, good leadership and good chemistry. With this combination, the team set the goal of winning the conference championship.

“If we don’t win we’ll be right there breathing on them awful hard,” Rutledge said.

On the women’s team, the veterans led the way.

Senior Erin Click finished at the front of the Lions’ pack with an 11th-place time of 19:10. Senior Kelly Fanning and sophomore Kelly O’Toole finished in 19:21 and 19:25, respectively. Freshman Kari Fritchie finished in 19:39, freshman Krista Meyers in 19:43, and freshman Kara Eckard in 20:50.

“Last week we could see what we could do in a competitive setting but we really didn’t have competition with anyone but ourselves,” said Patty Vavra, head women’s cross country coach.

Vavra said the runners saw where they stand up for this season. They also saw the freshmen step up into the college setting and compete in a collegiate race.

“They got their eyes opened a bit, but at the same time they competed hard and well,” Vavra said.

Vavra has a positive outlook on the season. She said the women ran a tight pack at UA but will possibly be more spread out this week running next to several different people.

“This week we’ve got to race,” Vavra said.

The next race for both teams is the Southern Stampede, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday on Southern’s cross country course.