Track & field ready to host Radio Shack Invitational

The Missouri Southern men’s and women’s track and field teams will host the Radio Shack Invitational tonight in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Radio Shack Invitational, which will hold day two of competition tomorrow, will host schools such as Oral Roberts University, Missouri State University and Johnson County Community College.

The teams competed two weeks ago at the University of Arkansas Razorback Invitational, where junior Kimi Shank received an automatic national qualifying mark in the 5,000-meter run. Shank won the event with a time of 17:02, breaking a school record and earning the title of the MIAA Women’s Track Athlete of the Week.

“Kimi had an awesome race,” said Women’s Head Coach Patty Vavra. “She continues to improve in every race. This is a great tribute to her work ethic. She’s written her ticket to nationals and she’ll continue to get better”

Shank’s time broke the previous school record of 17:05, which was also set by Shank.

Junior Courtney Waltbillig finished fourth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:05.

“Courtney had a sound race and overall a good meet,” Vavra said. “This is a race that she has never ran in track and field before, but she did a very good job.”

Senior Shannan Borgard won the 800 meter race, while junior Kaitlin Wilkinson finished 16th.

Junior Ashley Bunch and Kari Fritchie finished sixth and 12th in the 3,000-meter run.

“We’re seeing some outstanding performances,” Vavra said. “But, we’re also having a strange year with sickness. It’s going to be an adversity we will just have to work through.”

On the men’s side, senior Phillip Horn won the Heptathlon competition with a combined 5,107 points.

“Phillip is having a phenomenal year,” Rutledge said. “He’s ranked second in the nation and won the Razorback Invitational. Why he didn’t get the MIAA Athlete of the Week along with Kimi is beyond me.”

Horn finished second in the pole vault with a height of 14 feet, eleven inches. He also finished second in the 60-meter hurdles among his seven events.

Junior Aki Nummela finished third in the mile run with a time of 4:14. Sophomore Jarkko Jarvenpaa led the Lions in the 5,000-meter run with a second place finish. Senior Dustin Dixon and junior Brennan Benkert finished fourth and seventh.

Senior Seager Wilson finished fourth in the pole vault with a height of 15 feet, nine inches.

“I’m hoping the pole vaulters will come around this weekend,” Rutledge said. “They are almost where they need to be. Corey Shumate is really coming around for us and I think he’s going to do well.”

Shumate finished seventh in the pole vault competition.

The men’s team will see an addition to the team with junior Ben Pantzlaff, who joined the team after the recent cut of the men’s soccer program. It is not yet known what Pantzlaff will compete in for Southern.

“We’ll see what he can do,” Rutledge said. “He’s a great kid. The guys on the team like him. He’s got a great attitude, loves Southern and always has a smile on his face. He’s a great student-athlete. How can you turn a kid like that down?”