Willie Brown / The Chart

Marlee Tegenkamp [No. 191, center] leads her Lion teammates off the starting line in last Saturday’s Southern Stampede. Tegenkamp was the first Lion across the finish line on the day.

Jeremy Thomas / Staff Writer

On a hot and humid September Saturday in Joplin, some 5,000 spectators and over 2,000 runners ascended onto the campus of Missouri Southern.

Southern hosted its 22nd annual Southern Stampede last Saturday. The meet gains national attention as it is one of the largest cross country meets in the nation. Over 100 teams competed in 6 different categories, with MSSU competing against a few Division-I schools, as well as conference foes. The Lions were able to finish No. 3 overall out of 36 colleges and community college teams.

The Lions finished with a team average of 18 minutes 24.09 seconds.

“It was a giant step forward from the Arkansas meet we had a few weeks ago,” head coach Patty Vavra said of her team’s third-place finish. “At the stampede we were able to pack the team in tighter and run better as a team.”

Though this Lions team has its fair share of underclassmen, two upperclassmen were able to contribute. Seniors Silvia Pineda and Olga Bulgurova turned in the team’s second and third best finishes. Pineda finished No. 21 with a time of 18 minutes 19.35 seconds. Bulgurova finished just behind her teammate in 23rd place, finishing in 18 minutes 20.38 seconds.

It was not an upperclassman that had the team’s best finish though, that acclimation belongs to Marlee Tegenkamp. Tegenkamp, who is only a sophomore, is developing into a very strong runner. She was able to claim the team’s best finish as she finished No. 14 overall with a time of 18 minutes 05.96 seconds. Another underclassmen was able to turn in the team’s fourth-best finish, freshmen Rachel Schrader placed 35 overall with a time of 18 minutes 36.84 seconds. “Experience really helped the team finish strong, and have a successful meet,” Vavra said.

“We have to continue to improve as a team, continue to pack the team in tight so that teammates can push each other. We also need to try and get the runners that were in the back of the pack up to run with the front of the pack.”

Vavra went on to mention that she is impressed with how the team is running so far and that if they can keep healthy and avoid injuries the team should have a competitive season. The Lions are off this week and will get back to competition on Oct. 2 when they travel to Springfield, Mo. to Missouri State University for the Missouri State invite.