Cross country travels to Arkansas for first meet

Missouri Southern’s official cross country season begins today at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.

“We’re very excited to get the season started. Hopefully the upperclassmen leadership on the team will come through and the guys will have a great year. I have confidence that they will,” said Head Coach Bryan Schiding.

Last year at University of Arkansas the men’s cross country team earned 43 points while the women’s cross country team earned 46 points.

“We expect to be one of the better teams in the region and hopefully the nation,” said Schiding. “If we continue to stay healthy and we have everybody 100 percent, then I feel there’s nothing that can stop us.”

The men’s and women’s cross country teams have been predicted to finish second in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll.

 “This will be a great opener for us,” said Women’s Head Coach Patty Vavra. “We’re competing against two Division One schools. There will be some great competition, it gives us an opportunity to put the uniform on and compete for Missouri Southern.”

This season 15-year Assistant Coach Jamie Burnham will be coaching the men’s cross country team while assisting Vavra in mentoring the women’s cross country and track team.

Burnham has helped coach what has become one of the finest cross country teams in the MIAA.

The women’s cross country team won its fourth-straight MIAA cross country title in 2009 along with its third NCAA Division II South Central Regional title along with a third place finish at Nationals.

While attending Missouri Baptist College, Burnham was a five-time All-American and was a national runner-up in the 10,000-meter run in 1987. He holds school records in the 5,000-meter run, 10,000-meter run and marathon. Burnham is a member of the Missouri Baptists Athletics Hall of Fame.

In 1987, Burnham competed in the Dallas White Rock Marathon and New York City Ekiden Marathon placing third and 25th.

Burnham also earned 50th place in the Los Angeles Marathon in 1988, before he competed in the United States Olympic Trials Marathon.

“Jamie is an extremely accomplished coach. His records speak for themselves and I have nothing but confidence that he will continue the tradition of men’s distance and cross country at Missouri Southern,” said Schiding.