Men pursue MIAA crown

Matt Barney, Sports Writer

In an effort to get more athletes qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Missouri Southern men’s track and field team competed in three different states last weekend. In their last tune-up meets of the regular season, Southern distance runners competed in Lincoln, Neb., while others were at the UCM Classic in Warrensburg. Meanwhile, a small pride of Lions were in Fayetteville for the Arkansas Open.

In Warrensburg, the team of Fraley, Hawkins, Holley and Price picked up a win and a provisional in the mile relay. Sophomore Morgan Hold gave the Lions their only other provisional qualifying mark of the weekend in the pole vault.

The Lions now turn their focus to the MIAA Conference Championship meet that starts today on the campus of the University of Central Missouri.

“We need to focus on what we’ve done so far to get here,” said head coach Bryan Schiding. “If we can do a little better than what we are on paper, we’ll win the thing … we have to have a perfect meet is what it comes down to.”

The Lions rank No. 14 in Division II.

“I like where we’re at,” said assistant coach Brian Allen. “We got better marks last week in the shot, so were ready to go big, it just depends if they put it all together or not. Bryan Burns and Tyler Hovey have a lot more in the tank that they haven’t shown yet.”

With the team battling injuries throughout the season, the Lions have run out of time to get the athletes healthy. Senior co-captain Eric Schott, who dominated during the cross-country season, ran in his first indoor meet only last weekend. Coaches say Schott is about 80 percent healthy.

“It’s like trying to pour two gallons of water into a one-gallon bucket, it doesn’t work,” said assistant coach Jamie Burnham. “You can’t make up for all that lost time, and it’s unfortunate, but we’ll try to go out there and give it our best.”

Despite these injuries, other members of the team are healthy and ready for the big day.

“I predict Moso at UCM doing work,” said senior co-captain Jacob Rowe. “The guys are going to compete; every event, we will be in the mix.”

The MIAA Conference Championship gets under way today at 3 p.m. and will end Sunday.