Runners prepare for Stampede

T.J. Gerlach

After placing second against the University of Arkansas, the Missouri Southern men’s cross country team won the Pittsburg State University Invitational Sept. 10.

“We almost perfect scored,” said Tom Rutledge, men’s head coach. “We had a very good meet.”

The Lions had 18 points, missing the perfect score of 15 by three.

“Naturally, our upperclassmen ran well,” Rutledge said.

He said the freshmen still need to train more.

Rutledge said seniors Paul Koehler and Craig Rhoads should lead the team this year. He is looking forward to Southern Stampede on Saturday, as well as the rest of the season.

“It’s going to be tough because I had some great kids graduate,” he said.

Rutledge said Central Missouri State University is the team to beat this year.

“If the freshmen do their job, then we can continue our success,” he said.

The women’s cross country team also ran at UA, placing second. The Lions also competed in the PSU Invitational Sept. 10.

Patty Vavra, women’s head coach, said the meet was a small one, with only Southern, PSU and a few community colleges competing. The Lions placed second behind the Gorillas.

“I felt like we ran much more aggressively (than at UA),” Vavra said.

Vavra said she is expecting big things from senior Ashley Caffey and junior Megan Russell. She said Caffey and Russell “definitely will take on the leadership” this year.

The Lions qualified for the national meet in 2003 and Vavra said she wants to return.

“The goal for this year is to try to equal last year’s success,” she said.

Vavra said the team’s first “real-true” test will be Saturday’s “quality” Southern Stampede.

Southern Stampede hosts 34 college teams, from division I colleges to community colleges, and 34 high school teams from four states.

The college women’s 5K run begins at 9 a.m. and the college men’s 8K run will begin at 9:45 a.m. The stampede will be run at Southern’s cross country course.

The high school girls and boys will both run 5K races, starting at 10:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. respectively.