Juergens, Tanksley finish 9, 11 at 2011 nationals

Sophomore Michael Juergens and freshman Clark Tanksley represented Missouri Southern at the Division-II Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 11 and 12.  

Juergens placed ninth  in the pole vault, while Tanksley placed eleventh in the high jump.

Head Coach Tom Rutledge thinks the experience the two athletes gained is very valuable, especially at their age.  

“After it’s over they look back and say, ‘I could have done so much better,’ and they always play the ‘what if.’ But then again they have to understand that they know now that they can compete on this level,” Rutledge said.

The Lions’ main focus immediately shifts to their outdoor season which starts this weekend at the University of Arkansas.

Rutledge believes that the overall youth of the team could be its biggest obstacle for the season.

He hopes that this year will create a greater sense of confidence in the younger athletes. With the Lions’ first meet of this outdoor season at the University of Arkansas, their skill will immediately be challenged.

“I don’t believe in watering things down. Maybe it’s wrong sometimes, but it always pays off in the long run. I like to throw them to the lions early,” Rutledge said.

Senior distance runner Aki Nummela is back for his last outdoor season, and Rutledge believes that getting Nummela back will help complement Viktor Kuk. Nummela will serve as a mentor to Kuk because he went through the same transitions his freshman year being an international student. Kuk has been very good for the Lions this year, but Rutledge thinks next year will be “like night and day” in terms of improvement.

Rutledge is also looking for good things out of sophomore thrower James Coleman.