Men win MIAA championships; women place third

Mitch Carney sports writer

The Missouri Southern Lions’ men and women’s cross country teams competed in the MIAA 2018 Cross Country Championship where the women placed third overall and the men won the event. They are your new 2018 MIAA Cross Country Champions. This is the eleventh time in nineteen years that the Men’s cross country team has won the MIAA championship. Freshman, Gideon Kimutai added on to his spectacular freshman year with an individual win at the championship last Saturday with a time of 25:17.7. The next runner to finish after him was five seconds slower. Junior Cody Berry finished in the top five with a fifth place finish with a time 25:53. Fellow Lion following behind him in sixth with a time of 25:53.5. The Lions also had, junior, Josh Webb who finished eighth with a time of 25:55.5, junior, Mike Shanahan who finished 11th with a time of 26:16, sophomore, Jared Ozee, with a time of 26:27.5 to finish 15th, and, freshman, Kevin Koester finishing in 20th place with a time of 26:39.6.

“I thought we executed our plan perfectly! We wanted to get out and run together as a team, and now we have regionals at home in two weeks and our goal is to make it to nationals,” said Berry. 

Altogether the men had a score of 31 for a dominating first place performance. The second place team was Nebraska-Kearney who had a score of 101.

Although the men finished at the top with their performance Saturday, that did not stop the women from placing well themselves. Sophomore Ashlee Kuykendall was Southerns best women’s runner of the event with a fifth place finish and a time of 22:08.9. In 16th place for the women on Saturday was, sophomore, Julianna Determan who finished with a time of 23:05.6, senior, Sarah Usher had a time of 23:26.6 to place 23rd, while, freshmen, Alice Evans and Kelie Henderson placed 31st and 39th respectively.

“My thoughts as an individual are good. I feel like I went out and ran a smart race. I did not go out too fast and I just tried to stay with the front back and work my way towards the front,” said Kuykendall. “As for the team, everyone went out and gave the race all they had. Literally, almost every girl collapsed when they crossed the finish line and to me that means they raced wit their heart.” 

The Lions will get this weekend off as they prepare for NCAA Division II Central Regions Championships hosted by Missouri Southern on the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course here in Joplin. The meet in Joplin will be a big advantage for the Missouri Southern Cross Country team as they try to finish in the top three to make it to the Division II National Championships. 

“The men are in the position to make it, but there are around four teams including us that are fighting for the top three spots. We are going to have to go out and have one of our best days to make it,” said head coach Jamie Burnham.

The Lions have already competed once here at the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course where the men placed second and the woman placing ninth in the Southern Stampede. The women have a little more work cut out for them as they only placed third in the MIAA championships, but that isn’t stopping them from competing.

“For the race next weekend, I think as a team we can surprise some people and place very well. Individually, I feel like I can run this course like the back of my hand so if I stay focused and relaxed it will be a good race for sure,” said Kuykendall. 

The race will be Saturday, November 17 here in Joplin at the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course.