Shank earns All-American honors

Shank earns All-American honors

Shank earns All-American honors

After a strong performance at the Division II Cross Country National Championships, Missouri Southern junior Kimi Shank earned All-American status for the second year in a row.

“She’s only the second individual in Southern’s history to make the top 15,” said Women’s Head Coach Patty Vavra. “It’s truly quite a feat.”

Shank finished the meet in ninth place overall, running the 6k course in a time of 21:57.

The women’s team finished 16th in team standings with a combined 342 points.

“We came up a little short than what we hoped for as a team,” Vavra said. “But, individually we ran really well. We’re not going to make excuses and that’s the good thing about this group. If there is adversity, they are going to overcome it.”

Junior Courtney Waltbillig earned a 46th place finish, in front of sophomore Silvia Pineda who finished 80th. Pineda finished the course in a time of 23:44.

Senior Kara Eckard finished in 89th, while sophomore Olga Bulgurova finished 120th.

Senior Kari Fritchie and sophomore Victoria Kline finished 124th and 135th respectively.

“We didn’t have a lot of depth this year,” Vavra said. “With Kari and Kara graduating, we’re going to have some big shoes to fill.”

Adams State, Grand Valley State and Western State finished in the top three in the women’s standings. Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler won the individual title for the second year in a row.

“You’ve got to be proud of them,” Vavra said. “They’ve stepped up and got the job done all year long. They performed well week in and week out. It really shows their work ethic and commitment.”

The men’s team finished the meet, which was ran with snow on the ground, in 22nd overall.

“We didn’t race well,” said Men’s Head Coach Tom Rutledge. “But, that’s life. We have to lose every now and then. This year, it just wasn’t in our cards.”

The team was led by freshmen Jarkko Jarvenpaa, Aki Nummela and Chris Bell.

Jarvenpaa finished 110th with a time of 33:34.

“Jarkko’s time was fast enough to land him a spot in the European Championship race in Brussels,” Rutledge said. “He’ll represent Finland on the juniors team. It’s a great thing for him.”

Nummela and Bell finished the 10k course in 116th and 117th place. Bell finished two seconds behind Nummela with a time of 33:54.

Junior Brennan Benkert earned a 119th place finish, while freshman Derek Mendell finished 149th.

“Brennan didn’t have a good day,” Rutledge said. “He normally leads the team, but the lead dog didn’t go out this time. It’s not his fault though, somebody should have picked up for him.

Freshmen Shawn Goebel and Deric Kimrey finished 161st and 163rd respectively.

“We have good things a head of us,” Rutledge said. “We have great guys and our freshman are another year older. I’m really proud that my team made it to nationals. For being a young team, we didn’t have a bad year at all.”

Adams State won the men’s overall team title, while Chico State’s Scott Bauhs won the individual title.

Both the men and women’s team will begin the indoor track and field season on Jan. 9 at the University of Arkansas.