Three Lions come away with All-American Honors

Jeremiah Cook

On Friday and Saturday, March 12-13, the Missouri Southern Lions men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams were represented in the NCAA Division II indoor track and field championship meet, in Boston.

The Lions sent three competitors each from both squads to compete in the meet, three of whom would finish with All-American Honors.

Throwers Arley Smith, senior and Danee Jones, junior; pole vaulters Chris Turner, junior, and Matt Campbell, sophomore; sprinter Mary Still, senior, and high jumper Sara Mueller, sophomore, made the trip for the Lions, with Smith, Turner and Still coming away with All-American awards.

All-American status is given to those athletes that finish in the top eight in their field of competition.

Still ran the fastest time both days in the 400-meter event on March 12 in the preliminary rounds, and finished seventh in the nation.

Mueller finished ninth out of 13 in the high jump.

“We had some good luck and some bad luck,” said Patty Vavra, women’s head coach.

“Unfortunately, at that level, it’s hard to get it back when it comes to a missed opportunity.”

The Lions are quick to point out all of the athletes involved in the national meet worked hard to achieve their goals.

“Those are three young ladies that worked hard to get where they are at,” Vavra said.

“They really had a great indoor season.”

“These guys did well and had a great year,” said Tom Rutledge, men’s head coach.

“A lot of great things happened for us in the indoor season.”

Smith went into the competition ranked sixth in the nation, and finished the two day meet ranked fourth.

“It was quite an honor to go to nationals,” Smith said.

“Going in I was ranked sixth, and the level of competition was very high. Even though I threw two feet under my best mark, I moved up two places, so I’m happy with it.”

Meanwhile, Turner finished in second place in the pole vault.

The men’s team finished the meet ranked 16th, giving them a top-20 finish in each of the last six years, and the women’s team finished the meet tied with three other teams for 38th in the top 40, of all Division II schools in the country.