Cross country teams prepare for regionals

T.J. Gerlach

Maryville was the setting for the MIAA Cross Country Champ-Championships.

Missouri Southern’s men’s cross country team finished in fourth place though seniors Paul Koehler and Craig Rhoads finished in first and second, respectively.

“We don’t make excuses,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s coach.

He said sophomore Dustin Miller had tonsillitis, but still tried to run.

“He’s usually a good, strong fourth man, which would have definitely pushed us to second place, but he just did not have a good day,” Rutledge said.

He said the freshmen on the team are young and were not able to push up.

“We still feel like we’re one of the best teams in the conference,” Rutledge said. “And we have one more chance to prove that.”

The women’s cross country team finished third overall. Senior Ashley Caffey and juniors Megan Russell and Erin Click finished third, fourth and fifth individually.

Patty Vavra, women’s head coach, said the women came up short of where they had hoped to be.

“It’s very rare to do that (finish third through fifth) and not win a conference championship,” Vavra said.

She said only 11 points separated the No. 1 team from the No. 4 team.

Both Rutledge and Vavra said improving the positions of the last few runners is important for their teams.

“Our goal right now is to move that fourth and fifth runner up before the regional championship,” Vavra said.

Both teams will compete in the NCAA Div. II South Central Regional, which will be held Nov. 6 at Southern’s cross country course.

Rutledge said the meet will be the ultimate test, and Vavra said there are a lot of high stakes for the meet.