Tegenkamp finishes first, women beaten by Pittsburg State gorillas


Willie Brown

Marlee Tegenkamp, meet champion, runs in Wednesday’s dual meet with Pittsburg State.

Jeremy Thomas

Mother Nature dished out hours of nasty weather Saturday, Sept. 17, in Joplin, resulting in the first-ever cancelation of the Missouri Southern Stampede.

The 23rd annual Southern Stampede was one of the Lions’ biggest meets of the season, but with nearly two inches of rain dropping down on the course, the meet had to be canceled.

“I was disappointed that my runners did not get the chance to compete, it’s such a great event and big meet for us, and to not get to run in it at all was just really sad,” Head Coach Patty Vavra said.

Event staff, workers and Southern coaches tried getting the meet started, but with lighting around the area, they had to delay it twice.

After the second delays, which postpone the meet close to 2 p.m., they finally decided to call it quits and cancel the meet altogether.

“That whole day was just a roller coaster of emotions. I had my team within ten minutes of racing, then the meet gets delayed, I had moments of excitement which were then quickly followed by moments of disappointment,” Vavra said.  

“We had to put the athletes first and consider their safety, which is the most important thing.”

“I was really upset because I really wanted to run,” one of Vavra’s top runners, junior Marlee Tegenkamp, said of her emotions on Saturday.

“I kept looking at the radar like, ‘come on stop raining,'”

With the stampede being canceled, it put the Lions in a tough place, as they have not yet run in a big meet this season.

With an opening in their schedule, the Lions were able to squeeze in a dual meet with Pittsburg State University on Wednesday on the University cross country course.

The Lions and Gorillas of Pittsburg State raced each other in the two-team meet, in which PSU claimed the team title.

The women ran the 6k course and the veterans on the team proved once again to be the leaders on the team, as Tegenkamp and Rachel Schrader finished in the top five.  

Tengenkamp finished in 17:33.60 just behind former Lion and unattached runner Ashley Bunch. Schrader finished third in a time 18:01.70, while freshman Lauren Robson came in seventh place, the highest finisher for the underclassmen.

“It’s difficult at times to run in the smaller meets, but this meet helped fine tune some running techniques,” Tegenkamp said.

The underclassmen on the team, according to Vavra, “are improving steadily.”

According to Vavra, some of them ran lifetime personal best times at the meet.

“The team was able to pack in the group a little tighter this meet, but still needs improvement,” Vavra said.

The Lions will now try to prepare themselves for a big meet at Oklahoma State University for the Oklahoma State Jamboree on Oct. 1.

“This will be an outstanding test for us to run. These next few weeks will be very pivotal for the team to see if we will have a successful season,” Vavra said.