Southern Stampede continues success

The Lions´ Paul Koehler races against an OSU runner in the men´s 8K race.

The Lions´ Paul Koehler races against an OSU runner in the men´s 8K race.

Lions, Gorillas, Bears, Razorbacks, Cowboys and Sooners all stampeded Sept. 18 at Missouri Southern.

Southern hosted the 16th-annual Southern Stampede cross country meet. 1,189 runners competed in the meet this year in the men’s and women’s college meets and the girls’ and boys’ high school meets. Tom Rutledge, head men’s cross country coach, said more than 300 runners also ran in the 5K fun run held after the four official races, bring the total number of runners this year to about 1,400.

Rutledge said 74 schools, from high schools to junior colleges, colleges and universities, competed in the four races.

He said no other sport Southern competes in brings some of the competition that Southern Stampede brings in, including several Division I teams.

“I always feel great about (the Stampede),” Rutledge said. “It’s one of the largest meets in the United States.”

He said about 2,500 spectators showed up to watch the races.

“We’ve created a monster in some ways,” he said.

“It was probably the largest Stampede we’ve had,” said Patty Vavra, head women’s cross country coach.

The college women’s 5K race was won by Mirriam Kuamba from Oklahoma Baptist University with a time of 16:30.81.

Jessica Eldridge, from the University of Oklahoma, came in second with a time of 16:41.96.

OU took top honors in the team contest with 72 points.

The University of Arkansas finished second with 79 points. Rounding out the top six were Southwest Missouri State University, Truman State University, the University of Tulsa and OBU.

The Lions’ top finisher was Megan Russell, junior, who placed 24th overall with a time of 18:26.32.

The team finished in ninth place with 230 points.

“I think we’re on track,” Vavra said. “We beat some pretty good teams.”

She said she thought Southern’s top three runners ran well.

“We just had too many places between our third runner and our fourth and fifth runners,” she said.

In the college men’s 8K race, Josphat Boit, from the UA, placed first overall with a time of 23:54.82.

He was followed by Mark Fountain, who was unattached, with a time of 24:14.44. Marc Rodrigues, from UA, was a close third putting up a time of 24:14.72.

The Razorbacks also took top honors in the team standings with 20 points. Second place went to Harding University with 72 points, and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys came in third with 95 points. OU, SMSU and Southern completed the top 6 teams.

The Lions’ top finisher in the 8k was Paul Koehler, senior, who placed 37th with a time of 26:01.60.

“I felt we competed as a team very well,” Rutledge said. “We did alright. We should have beaten Oklahoma, and we should have beaten SMS. If we had run at our best, we should have beaten those two teams.”

He said the team is having to depend on some freshmen who “just aren’t quite there.”

“We have a pretty good team,” Rutledge said. “I really think we can (return to conference, regionals and nationals).”

Eureka High School won both girls’ and boys’ high school division 1 race, and East Newton High School took top honors for both races in division 2.

Both Southern’s women’s and men’s teams will take a week off.

The women will head to Chicago Oct. 2 to race at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational. The men head to Stillwater, Okla. Oct. 2 to race at the Oklahoma State Jamboree.

Both coaches said the Oct. 2 meets are also large meets. They said the teams will work harder on the week off, before heading to their respective meets.