Eckard earns automatic, Lions to host meet

Sophomore Josh Mathis competes in the 5,000-meter run. Mathis is one of 40 athletes on the mens track team competing for a chance at the national tournament.

Jim Quist

Sophomore Josh Mathis competes in the 5,000-meter run. Mathis is one of 40 athletes on the men’s track team competing for a chance at the national tournament.

After adding one more to the list of national qualifiers, the Missouri Southern men and women’s track and field team gears up to host tonight’s Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational.

Senior Kara Eckard earned the national qualifying mark last week at the University of Arkansas. Eckard finished fifth in the steeplechase with a time of 10:54.

“Kara had a great steeplechase,” said Women’s Head Coach Patty Vavra. “It’s nice for her to get an automatic into the national meet.”

The time was just seconds shy of Eckard’s school record in the event. The time is also the seventh fastest time in Division II, as well as, the second fastest in the MIAA this season.

Senior Kari Fritchie finished eleventh in the steeplechase with a time of 11:18.

“She [Kari] had an amazing race,” Vavra said. “She improved by thirty seconds and received a provisional in the event.”

Sophomore Carita Riutta received a provisional in the 800-meter run. Riutta finished eighth with a time of 2:13.

“Carita is improving greatly,” Vavra said. “She is getting even more familiar with the race.”

Junior Courtney Waltbillig earned a fourth place finish in the 1,500-meter run. Waltbillig finished the event in 4:49, earning a provisional.

Freshman Lisa Vengels was fifth in the high jump. Vengels jumped a height of five feet, three inches.

Juniors Jill Weeks and Ciara Lipsey finished fourth and eighth in their respective events.

Weeks competed in the javelin and threw a distance of 133 feet, 10 inches. Lipsey vaulted a height of 12 feet, one and half inches.

“Ciara is competing well,” Vavra said. “I’m happy with her performance.”

Junior Kimi Shank won the 10,000-meter race at the KU Relays.

“Kimi ran extremely well,” Vavra said. “Anytime you win like that at KU, it is quite a feat. And, this is her second year to do that.”

Junior Emilie Meiseler received a provisional in the hammer throw at the University of Central Missouri meet. Meiseler finished third in the event.

“Right now, we have two automatics and nine people provisionals on the team,” Vavra said. “That says a lot about this group and we just continue to improve.”

On the men’s side, senior Phillip Horn finished eleventh in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.99.

“Phillip is looking extremely well,” said Men’s Head Coach Tom Rutledge. “He is pretty close to a provisional in the hurdles.”

Junior Corey Shumate finished sixth in the pole vault. Shumate vaulted a height of 15 feet, seven inches. Senior Seager Wilson and Horn finished eighth and tenth in the event.

Freshmen Seth Hackney and Kyle Hancock finished eighth and tenth in the shot put.

“Seth is doing really well for us,” Rutledge said. “He’s a great kid.”

Juniors Derek Wright and Rustan Crockett competed in the 800-meter run, finished tenth and eleventh.

Sophomore Jarrko Jarvenpaa finished seventeenth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:21.

Sophomore Chris Brown competed in the high jump, finishing fourteenth. Brown jumped a height of six feet, two and three quarter inches.

“Chris is looking better, “Rutledge said. “He’s getting his rhythm down.”

The track and field teams will send Horn and Vengels to compete in the MIAA Decathlon Championships Sunday and Monday.

The rest of the team will compete in the MIAA Outdoor Conference Championships hosted by Southern on May 2-3.

“We have a lot of injuries right now,” Rutledge said. “We’ll have to adapt and adjust, but we’ll do the best we can.”