Birmingham offers Lions ultimate opportunity


Kristen Stacy | The Chart

Senior pole vaulter Ashleigh McFarland flies through the air during MSSU Lion Open in Leggett & Platt Athletic Center on Feb. 6, 2015. The Lions won multiple events, building momentum the team carried throughout the indoor season.

The Missouri Southern women’s track and field team placed fourth overall at the MIAA Conference Championship meet last weekend in Warrensburg. The Lions had two overall wins and 12 All-MIAA performances. The league title went to host school Central Missouri, who finished first and also had the high point winner, Erika Kinsey.

“Just because we didn’t win the whole thing doesn’t mean we didn’t have success,” said sophomore Emily Harris. “It takes the whole team giving their best effort; that’s what we did and fourth is what we got. It’s still success in my eyes.”

“We have over 20 newcomers on our squad this year, and the development of those athletes takes time,” said head coach Patty Vavra. “On the other hand, our veterans led the team and made a giant impact in the meet.”

Named an All-MIAA performer, Harris won the mile with a provisional time of 4:58.93.

“I feel like I raced well in the mile and did what I could in the 3k,” said the Farmington, Mo. native. “It was a tough weekend for everyone.”

Senior Kindra Emberton was the Lions’ other individual winner with a victory in the 800 meters. Emberton ran a provisional time of 2:13.98, an All-MIAA performance.

”I had to fight back the tears,” she said. “I’ve wanted an 800-meter conference championship since my freshman year, so it’s a true blessing.”

Other All-MIAA performers included second place winners Melanie Bower in the pole vault, Amber White in the 400m, and Brittani Reagan in the long jump. Third place finishers included Kaylee Morgan in the long jump and the distance medley relay team of Dana Roberson, Sydney Potts, Destiny Akannam, and Addie Mengwasser, all of whom were named All-MIAA.

The Lions were .20 seconds away from another first place finish when senior Kaitlyn Belisle was narrowly edged out of first in 3k. The added points would have moved the team to a third-place overall finish. The All-MIAA Performer Belisle, also placed second in the 5k.

“I’m not disappointed in the outcome of my races, but it is sad to realize my time left as a college athlete is coming to an end soon,” she said. “I didn’t run quite as fast as I wanted in the 5k because I wanted to qualify for nationals, but I turned around and PR’d in the 3k by 4 seconds.”

The Lion’s now turn their attention to the NCAA Division II National Championship in Birmingham, Ala.. Harris, Emberton, White, Bower, and the distance medley relay team, along with Belisle as an alternate, have earned spots in the meet on March 13-14. However, a huge question mark remains in the case of White, who suffered a severe leg injury early in the week. She claims she will race regardless of the injury; however, the coaching staff isn’t as clear.

“Right now the entire medical evaluation is not final,” said Vavra. “It will be carefully considered by the doctor and trainers to come to the best conclusion once we have all the information.”