Cross country strives for success

Both Missouri Southern’s women’s and men’s cross country teams competed Oct. 2.

The women’s team ran in the 32nd-Annual Sean Earl Loyola Lakefront Invitational in Chicago.

“We had a nice finish in a very large meet,” said Patty Vavra, women’s head coach. “Our top three runners ran extremely well.”

The Lions finished second as a team with three runners finishing in the top eight.

Junior Megan Russell was the first Lion across the finish line. Russell finished third overall with a time of 18:22. Junior Erin Click finished sixth overall with a time of 18:27, and senior Ashley Caffey crossed the line eighth overall with a time of 18:48.

Vavra said there is still a large number of runners between the team’s fourth and fifth runners.

“I think we took a very nice step in [the right] direction,” she said.

The next challenge for the women is the Missouri-Illinois Border War on Oct. 9 in Edwardsville, Ill. Vavra said almost every women’s team from the MIAA conference will be competing at the Border War. She said the meet will give the team a good idea of where it stands in the conference before the conference finals.

“They’re working extremely hard to finish where they’d like to,” Vavra said.

The men’s cross country team competed Oct. 2 in the men’s 8K race at the Oklahoma State Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla.

“It was a tough competition for us,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s coach.

Overall the men finished 13th out of 34 teams competing.

In individual results, the Lion’s Paul Koehler, senior, was Southern’s first finish. Koehler placed 29th overall with a time of 25:35. Sophomore Dustin Miller finished 53rd overall in 26:22, and junior Lucas Plocher finished 56th with a time of 26:25.

Rutledge said the men are not running as a team yet.

“We need to try to get the kids to run more as a team,” he said. “My upperclassmen are running well; it’s just that our freshmen are having a hard time – they’re struggling right now.”

Rutledge said the freshmen runners are not yet used to the mileage and the competition of college cross country.

The men head to Orlando, Fla. Oct. 9 to race in the Disney World Classic.

Rutledge said the men won the Classic three years ago, and he is rewarding the team for winning conference four years in a row by taking the Lions back to Orlando.

“It’ll be a good experience for us,” Rutledge said.