Men’s track team digs spikes in at home

The Lions grabbed eight wins at the Missouri Southern Track and Field Festival April 1 and 2.

“We’ve had a good start, hopefully we can keep going,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s track and field coach.

Taking the crown in the 400- meter dash was senior Neil Hombs. Hombs ran for a time of 48.56.

“I’ll probably have to cut another second to get a shot at going to nationals,” he said.

Junior Kyler Rushing claimed third place with a time of 49.84.

“I was really excited because I [got a personal record] in the 400-meter,” Rushing said.

In the 800 meter run, Freshman Rustan Crockett finished ninth in 2:07.28.

Southern went 1-2 in the 1,500-meter run with freshman Brandon Wheeler finishing in front with a time of 4:09.88. Junior Lucas Plocher finished second in 4:11.92.

Seniors Craig Rhoads and Paul Koehler led the pack in the 5,000-meter run. Rhoads finished in front with a time of 14:53.48. Koehler took second in 15:01.23. Sophomore Dustin Miller finished fifth in line with 15:28.47.

Freshman Sam McDonald completed the 110-meter hurdles in 15.84 for fifth place while Senior Chris Turner finished eighth in 16.48.

The 4×100-meter relay of freshman Chris Farmer, sophomore Jordan Ousley, senior Chris Turner, and junior Moses Manga and received third place with a time of 42.67.

The 4×400-meter relay team consisting of Manga, Rushing, Wheeler, and Hombs captured first place in the last race of the day. Their time was 3:22.10.

“It was pretty easy,” said Hombs, who runs the last leg, “the first three legs ran really well so I didn’t have to do a whole lot in the end.”

Southern’s B 4×400-meter relay placed fifth with a time of 3:35.15.

In the high jump, Rushing took first place by clearing a height of 6-6.

“I felt I could’ve done better than 6-6 but there was a strong wind and it’s hard to jump in it,” he said.

Turner jumped over 6-0 to gain fourth place in the event.

Southern dominated the pole vault competition with a 1-2-3 finish.

After junior Matt Campbell cleared 16-4 3/4 to win and receive a provisional mark, he had the bar raised to 17-2. This height would top the school record if successfully vaulted and would have been Campbell’s personal record, but he wasn’t able to clear it that day.

“It was a tough call,” Campbell said. “I know I can get it, but I probably should’ve taken a jump at a lower height first.”

He said they usually start jumping well five to eight jumps into the meet. However, he had only done four before he moved it up to 17-2.

Senior Chris Turner took second place in the event with a height of 16-0 3/4.

Freshman Russell Ellis matched his personal record to claim third place with a vault of 15-5.

“I really wanted a provisional [15-9],” he said.

Ellis said he has been working on some things this week and his goal is to get a bigger bar under him, get a provisional, and go to nationals.

“I’m on the verge of something big, I think,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”

In the long jump, senior Michael Stewart placed fourth with by soaring over 21-02.75 of sand.

“It was the first time I long jumped in a while,” Stewart said. “It didn’t do too terribly bad, it could’ve gone better.”

Freshman Nick Vince placed fourth in the shot put with 48-0 1/2. Freshman Adam Sims threw 46-0 1/2 for sixth place.

Junior Mike Hines won the discus competition with a throw of 149-6. Vince placed eighth with a toss of 125-2 while freshman Adam Sims threw 121-3 for ninth place.

Lucas Clark, sophomore, flung the hammer 144-2 to receive fifth place. Freshman John Isenman threw 133-9 to take eighth place.

Beating the competition by almost 29 feet, senior Mika Alahaivala grabbed first place in the javelin competition with a throw of 207-9.

Alahaivala automatically qualified for the outdoor national track and field championships at the Willie Williams Invitational at the University of Arizona over spring break. He had been training with Esko Mikkola a former Division I champion and Olympian from Finland.

At Arizona, Alahaivala launched the javelin 219-10, the third best throw in Lions history. Alahaivala himself holds the record with 223-7.

“We could not have pulled this weekend off without the help of volunteers,” said Coach Rutledge. “The usuals and the football team for the first time helped out and we deeply appreciate it.”

The Lions travel to Emporia State University to compete this weekend.

“Every week we get the chance to improve,” Stewart said.