Men meet success at OU, anticipate conference

Consistency is what kept the Lions from taking a week off before the conference track meet.

They traveled to the University of Oklahoma Feb. 18-19 to compete.

“Some [other schools] take a week off,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s track and field coach. “But I feel it’s good to keep them [the athletes] in the same pattern. I believe in consistency.”

He said the OU meet was a good tune up against good competition.

“All we can do is try to improve ourselves each day,” Rutledge said.

The Lions had 18 finish in the top 10 at OU.

In the 200-meter dash, freshman Chris Farmer placed seventh with a time of 22.56.

“I was excited to run in lane six because the corners weren’t as tight,” Farmer said.

He’s recovering from a hamstring injury and will be running at the conference meet Saturday. He said he hopes to score some points for the team.

In the mile, senior Craig Rhoads took first place with a time of 4:17.64. Freshman Kyle Davis came in third with a time of 4:27.59. Brandon Wheeler, freshman, placed fifth with 4:36.60. Ryan Arthur, freshman, finished seventh in 4:49.36.

In the 400-meter dash, senior Neil Hombs placed sixth with a time of 50.52. Freshman David Downs finished in 51.38 and received ninth place.

In the 600-yard run, freshman Leigh Drish came in ninth place with 1:21.43. Freshman Rustan Crockett finished 10th in 1:22.15.

Lucas Plocher, junior, was ninth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:01.

Freshman Ryan Arthur ran in the 3000-meter and received third place with a time of 9:25.85.

The Lions’ 4×400-meter relay received fifth place with a time of 3:26.41.

In the weight throw competition, sophomore Lucas Clark came in first place with a throw of 48-2. Freshman John Isenman placed second with a throw of 40-6 1/4.

Junior Mike Hines threw the shot put 51-11 3/4 to place third.

Junior Kyler Rushing soared over 6-5 and claimed second place in the high jump competition.

In the triple jump, freshman Jason Greek placed sixth with a leap of 42-0 1/2.

Meanwhile, junior pole-vaulter Matt Campbell tied for third with a clearance of 16-0 3/4.

Rutledge said the team’s main weakness at OU was that some of the athletes weren’t as focused as they could’ve been because they were anticipating the conference meet the next weekend.

“The effort was there but not the focus,” Rutledge said. “In the past we’ve not done well at Oklahoma but came back and done well at the conference meet.”

He said that he’s done all he can before the conference meet.

“It is just another track meet,” Rutledge said. “You have to go out and do the best that you can … go out and relax and do what you’ve trained to do.”

He also realizes there will be mistakes this weekend.

“We need to keep ours to a minimum,” he said. “We’ll have to run a semi-perfect meet.”

Senior distance runner Paul Koehler said the team has the potential to win as long as everyone does their respectable jobs and does everything they can in their power.

Rutledge said Central Missouri State University’s weapons and home advantage will need to be beaten as well as Emporia State University, Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Rolla.

He said as defending MIAA champions, the Lions have a target on their back.

“It’s nice to know you’re one of the teams to beat,” Rutledge said.

Freshman Brandon Wheeler said the freshman will have to help out a lot this weekend.

“Being a freshman, I’ve got to step up and do my part,” he said. “We owe it to the seniors to pull our weight and be right behind them. Every point counts.”

Rutledge said if they win the conference championship, they deserve it. He said it’ll be because they earned it.

“They’re good kids. I enjoy coaching them,” Rutledge said. “I feel if I train them, they will compete hard. I’m pretty hard on them, but I expect a great deal from them, too. They are what makes me get up every morning and come to work.”