Team focuses during final home indoor meet of year

Cliff Erwin

The Lions track and field team hosted its second and final indoor meet of the season Feb. 7-9.

In this meet, the team finished fifth, with 51 points, behind three division one schools and MIAA rival Central Missouri State University.

The Baymont Inn/Fazoli’s Open Invitational did not only involve division one competition, but was almost a full pre-conference championship meet.

The team showed improvement from the previous week at Oklahoma, and Tom Rutledge, head coach, thought the team had good effort and was better focused.

Rutledge under-distanced many of his runners by putting them in shorter distance events to work on speed.

Arley Smith set a school record and a provisional in the weight throw with a toss of 58-3.

There were many other accomplishments Rutledge was proud of, but thought there was more to be desired in the pole vault.

Rutledge said there were not many good vaults at the meet due to the number of entries and the time Southern’s vaulters had to wait.

“It’s the nature of the beast because the pole vault does take so long,” Rutledge said.

The NCAA has tried to combat that by shortening the pegs which the bar sits on so that it falls off easier, and Rutledge thinks that theory hasn’t worked.

“There are lots of goods and bads about it; we just have to find a way to deal with it better,” Rutledge said.

“We really worked hard in the off season and I think it’s starting to show through,” said Jeremiah Still. “We’re not 100 percent yet, but we’re going to be. Through a lot of hard work and perseverance‚ I think we’re going to really come through and shine pretty bright this season.”

Friday, only part of the team will travel to an elite meet at the University of Arkansas. Southern’s athletes will get the chance once again to run against the top athletes in the nation.

Much of the SEC conference, Nike team, the Big 12 conference, and the best of division two will be there.

“It was really an honor to get 16 people in there,” Rutledge said.

Athletes who will attend include: Smith, Jamie Tallman in the throws, Kyler Rushing in the high jump, Michael Stewart in the triple jump, Seth Isringhausen, Kyle Rutledge, and Chris Turner in the pole vault, Thomas Quaid and Michael Sutter in the 800-meter run, Magnus Holmstrom in the 5,000-meter run, Brian Lyons in the mile run, Petri Kykyri, Larry Boswell, Paul Koehler, and Craig Rhoads in the 3,000 meter, and B.J. Blocker in the hurdles.

“We need to be able to tap into quality meets like this to get us prepared for the conference and nationals,” Rutledge said.

For athletes not attending the meet in Arkansas, there will be a week of practice and then a cooling off period with steady training for the University of Oklahoma Feb. 22.

“We’re going to train hard and stick to it,” Still said. “We can’t take anything for granted this week, and depending on our legs, we just have to keep training hard.”