Men, women take 2nd

Freshman Jarrko Jarvenpaa finished seventh at the Southern Stampede.

Freshman Jarrko Jarvenpaa finished seventh at the Southern Stampede.

After a strong showing at the annual Southern Stampede, junior Kimi Shank and freshman Jarrko Jarvenpaa were named the MIAA Cross Country Runners of the Week.

Shank was the first Lion across the finish line, finishing fourth with a time of 17:26 in the five-kilometer race.

“Kimi ran very well,” Women’s Cross Country Coach Patty Vavra said. “She was a second off of a school record. This was really just a good meet for her.”

Shank finished first among Division II athletes and 50 seconds behind the leader, University of Tulsa senior Alex Becker.

The Southern women finished second in team standings behind the University of Tulsa.

“I’m happy with our finish,” Vavra said. “We ran much better than we did two weeks ago at the University of Arkansas, but we are still not where we want to be.”

Southern senior Kara Eckard finished 19th in 18:30 and sophomore Olga Bulgurova placed 33rd (18:56).

“Olga is doing great,” Vavra said. “You can see how well she has improved over the year.”

Senior Kari Fritchie was 39th, followed by junior Ashley Bunch (47th) and sophomore Victoria Kline (55th).

“We had outstanding improvements,” Vavra said. “I don’t like to single out runners, but we had a couple that just did great. Kari really ran well. She is improving greatly. This time last year, she wasn’t even running.”

“We need to keep working on getting in there and packing together,” Vavra said. “We’re making nice progress. We knew this wouldn’t be our best meet, but we got in there and got the job done.”

On the men’s side, Southern placed second behind Harding, which placed four runners in the top six. Harding freshman Daniel Kirwa won the eight-kilometer race in 24:09.

Jarvenpaa led the Lions with a seventh-place finish in 25:23.

“I’m very pleased,” said Men’s Cross Country Coach Tom Rutledge. “We beat a couple teams that beat us last week.”

Junior Brennan Benkert finished ninth for Southern, while freshman Aki Nummela finished 13th with a time of 26:03.

“Our top three guys got in there and did what I said to do,” Rutledge said. “They stayed close, packed up, and just raced.”

Freshman Chris Bell finished 43rd, followed by freshmen Derek Mendell, Shawn Goebel, and Deric Kimery, who finished 44th, 82nd and 155th in the 270-man competition.

“The freshman tried, but we need more,” Rutledge said. “They need to relax and do what I say. They can do it. They better do it.”

There were an estimated 6,000 people at the meet, with more than half being runners.

“There were a lot of people at the meet,” Rutledge said. “I hope they all went home happy.”

Both teams will be back in action on Oct. 4 at the Oklahoma State Jamboree.

Former Southern cross country runner Dustin Miller will take the men’s team to the meet, due to Rutledge being inducted to the Southern Sports Hall of Fame.