Men’s track places high at last home indoor meet

Junior Kyler Rushing eases his way over the bar in the high jump finals.

Junior Kyler Rushing eases his way over the bar in the high jump finals.

Nineteen was the number for the men’s track and field team last weekend. At the Baymont Inn/Fazoli’s Open, their last home indoor meet, the Lions claimed 19 top 10 finishes.

“It was the first meet we got to see D-II quality a lot more,” said freshman sprinter Chris Farmer. “I was anxious to see how I’d fair up to the competition I’d be running against the rest of the season.”

Head men’s track and field coach Tom Rutledge said the weekend was busy with more than 400 athletes competing Feb. 4 and 5.

He said although everyone’s exhausted from it, it was worth it.

In the elite pole vault competition, three of Southern’s men claimed a spot in the top five. Junior Matt Campbell cleared 16-3 1/4. Senior Kyle Rutledge improved his provisional mark with a second place vault of 16-3 1/4. Freshman Aaron Puckett placed third with 14-11 1/2.

“It was good and bad,” Campbell said. “I didn’t jump as high as I wanted to, but I used some larger poles that I wanted to. I worked on more technique coming off the top.”

Campbell, who is ranked No. 1 in Division II pole vault, said his goal for this season is 17-3. He looks to achieve this goal this weekend in Arkansas.

Also soaring to great heights was junior Kyler Rushing. He cleared 6-6 1/4 to earn fourth place in the high jump.

In the long jump competition, senior Mike Stewart placed eighth with a leap of 22-5 3/4.

Throwing weight, sophomore Lucas Clark placed third with a throw of 49-0 3/4. Freshman Nick Vince placed ninth in the event with a 44-8 3/4 throw.

Vince also placed eighth in the shot put competition with a heave of 47-1 3/4.

In the running events, freshman Chris Farmer placed third in the 60-meter dash with 7.01.

Farmer said competing against other teams in the conference gave him more confidence for the conference meet.

Farmer also tied for seventh in the 200-meter with a time of 23.29 seconds.

Senior Neil Hombs placed second in the 400-meter with a time of 50.78. Freshman David Downs placed fifth with a time of 51.24.

“These are two young men really making a run in the 400-meter,” Rutledge said.

In the one mile run invitational, freshman Kyle Davis placed sixth with a time of 4:32.45.

Southern had four 5K runners place in the top 10. Two seniors claimed the number two and three spots in the 5,000-meter run. Craig Rhoads placed second with a time of 14:57.38. Paul Koehler crossed the finish line with a third place time of 14:57.62.

Sophomore Dustin Miller came in ninth in 16:03.15 in the 5,000-meter. Freshman Ryan Arthur placed tenth with a time of 16:16.54.

In the relays, the 4×400-meter team placed third behind Cowley College and Central Missouri State University. Southern’s time was 3:25.81.

The distance medley relay also finished in third place with a time of 10:23.85 behind Southwest Baptist University and the University of Missouri-Rolla.

This weekend Southern will be heading to the University of Arkansas for the televised Tyson Invitational.

Thrower Mike Hines has been looking forward to the meet this weekend ever since he’s been in college. Hines didn’t compete at the last meet due to an elbow injury.

He said it is going to take a lot for him to let himself down at this meet.

“We really need to start focusing in now to get things together if we’re going to have a run for the championship,” Rutledge said. “There are some very tough teams, but we’re no slouches.”

Competing in the Tyson meet are: seniors Rhoads and Koehler in the 5K run; junior Mike Hines and freshman Nick Vince in shot put; senior Mike Stewart in the triple jump; and senior Kyle Rutledge and junior Matt Campbell in the pole vault.

“We’ll continue to improve our times,” Rutledge said. “We’ve got to be at our best in three weeks.”