Men’s cross country team plans to stay packed together for Stampede


Photo courtesy of Mike Gullet

Junior Colton Woodridge competes in the Southern Stampede in 2012 at Missouri Southern.

Last Saturday the Missouri Southern Men’s Cross Country team opened the season at the University of Arkansas.

Junior Eric Schott led the team with a third place time of 20:15.3 on the 6.6k race.  Senior Jake Benton finished in 13th place followed by sophomore Ryan Jackson in 21st.

Sophomore Nathan Henry and junior Colton Wooldridge finished 25th and 26th while Drake Smelser place 31st.

For the second meet of the season, the Lions are hosting the Southern Stampede.

“The stampede is a big running event statewide, said Wooldridge. “It draws over 50 high schools and around 50 universities. It’s a premiere meet for cross country.”

At last year’s Southern Stampede, the Lions took home second place out of 24 schools with a total of 72 points. The team placed behind Division I school the University of Tulsa which had 41 points.

Last year Schott was the Division II runner who placed the highest, finishing in third place on the 8k course with a time of 25:08.49. Adrian Todd, a junior, took home an 11th place time of 25:33.94. Benton followed in 14th place, while Andrew Webster who graduated from the team last year, placed 22nd.

“My freshman year, the Southern Stampede got cancelled due to inclement weather. So I was really disappointed. It would have been my first home race,” said Wooldridge. “The following year it rained again. We ended up running it through the mud and it was an awesome experience!”

Wooldridge and Jackson placed 32nd and 34th, respectively.

The team has had two weeks without competition to prepare for the stampede. Jackson says the teams trained the same as they usually do, mentally preparing for the upcoming home meet.

“The beauty of running on our home course is we get to train on it,” said Jackson. “We know when we’re supposed to be kicking for the final 400, we know when the last mile starts, we know mile by mile so we can see where we’re sitting in the race and see ahead.”

Jackson wants to focus on staying with the pack, keeping up to Schott and Benton, but also pulling his teammates behind him.

The team as a whole is going to focus on staying together as a pack.

With the main middle-men of the team, Todd and Webster, injured for the stampede, other Lions will have to step in to seam up the group.

“Being at home is always fun,” said Jackson. “I’m really excited to see, with us being ranked as high as we are, I’m ready to see how we do on our home course.”

The veteran runners are ready to get set for the stampede and that energy is being absorbed by the new guys.

“Listening to the guys talk about it, there are over 2,000 runners. You know, being a freshman at the bottom, going against upperclassmen that are ranked nationally. It’s pretty scary,” said freshman Tyler Rush.

The team defeated three other Division II opponents in last year’s meet.

“As long as they stay packed up and run as a team, obviously the stronger the pack time the stronger the team finishes,” said Mens Head Coach Bryan Schiding. “If they don’t run together and they start to gap, then that can be a weakness. But hopefully they’ll continue to run together and push each other.”