Oct. 1, 2012
Men's Gold Race Women's Gold Race Men's Blue Race Women's Blue Race
Louisville, Ky. – The Missouri Men were hoping to continue with the momentum set down with their win at Iowa State two weeks ago, and were able to do so and more at the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday. The team had an impressive 4th place performance in the 31-team race, which included finishing ahead of NCAA 6th-ranked Texas. Despite the rain that softened up the course at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, the course certainly lived up to its fast reputation as all the Tiger men finished with significant new personal records (PRs). Although they were just beat out by Iona, Columbia, and Georgia, the Tigers had key wins over Louisville, Michigan State, Penn State, and Kentucky among many others.
“Saturday was the beginning of the culmination of a long period of hard work for this group starting to pay off as a whole. The men once again executed the race plan beautifully and looked extremely confident and strong doing so,” said second year head coach Joe Lynn.
Senior Max Storms (Kansas City, MO) was once again the leader for the black and gold, continuing his great senior season by breaking his PR by 16-seconds, impressively placing 16th overall in 24:09.72.
“For me it went well, as good as it could have gone. I’m not used to being up there in a meet this size, but I just tried to stay consistent and the whole time I was thinking ‘you know, this really isn’t that bad’,” said Storms. “This just gives us a lot of experience as a team, racing in this kind of environment. We had a lot of unknowns coming in. Workouts are one thing, but you never know until you get into a race this size how you’re going to react.”
Second for the Tigers was freshman Tyler Schneider (Schaumburg, IL), whose outstanding race not only earned him a 66-second improvement from his Mizzou debut at Iowa State, but also a finish as the third freshman across the line. Schneider finished in 24:23.54, which was good for 27th place.
“I think this is just going to give me confidence, because now I know I can be up there, and the team is going to need me and a lot of the other guys to step it up,” said Schneider. “We’re going to try and win the SEC, obviously. I think today gave us a lot of confidence moving forward that we still have more in the tank, and we can still beat some of those teams.”
Juniors Hayden Legg (Mexico, MO) and Merid Seleshi (Ontario, Canada) were the next two scorers for the Tigers. Legg outstepped Seleshi for a 35th place finish and a final time of 24:31.88, a ten-second PR.
“The meet was a lot like [Adidas Wisconsin Invitational], with the number of runners and having to get out fast. Today helped with getting experience running really hard right from the gun,” said Legg. “We know that we can compete now, so we’ll be able to roll in the end.”
“Two years ago we were nowhere near to this, now we got seven guys under 25 minutes, so that’s pretty big,” said Seleshi, who finished in 24:32.41, earning him 36th place and a 50-second drop in his PR. “I feel like everyone had a really good race, and it feels like it’s coming together.”
Rounding out the scorers for the Tigers was sophomore Bryant Blahnik (Red Wing, MN), who claimed 41st place in 24:37.25, a new PR by 48-seconds.
Evan Chiplock (Saginaw, MI) was the second Tiger freshman over the line, and the fourth freshman overall, finishing 53-seconds faster than his debut at Iowa State to bring his PR down to 24:44.19. Senior Phil Bascio (St. Louis, MO) was next with a 49-second PR of 24:54. Freshman Joe McKenna (Madison, WI) also bested his first performance at Iowa State, bringing his time down by 70-seconds to 25:05.19. Junior Tyler Compton (Buffalo, MO) ran to an eight-second PR of 25:14.59, followed by freshman Kenny Cushing (Wentzville, MO) who rounded out the Tigers’ first race with a 30-second PR of 25:28.88.
“From top to bottom this was probably the most exciting men’s race I’ve been a part of as a coach. To see the guys fully engaged in a race with the caliber of competition we faced was really enjoyable for myself and our coaching staff to watch,” said Lynn. “Today was a big day for our program, but we understand that there is still a long road ahead and we will have to get back to work in the morning.”
The Women’s Gold Race followed, with the Tigers finishing 16th overall. Senior Bailey Belvis (Prosper, TX) once again led the Tigers with a 27th place finish. She earned a three-second PR, finishing the 5K course in 17:20.59.
“I’ll want to focus on getting out more, I think if I can integrate myself better with the front group instead of running behind them, and just feeling like more of a part of that and letting them pull me through, it’ll really help me,” Belvis said of her outlook for the rest of the season. “It was our first time being out there with a large field, so it was kind of a whole new set of cobwebs we had to work out. I think we are really prepared going into our next race for understanding how to get out, how to hold our position, and how to keep moving in a pack.”
Junior Kaitie Vanatta (Littleton, CO) made her season debut on Saturday as the second finisher for the black and gold. She placed 85th in 17:54.41.
“I think this will just give me the drive to keep moving forward and getting where I want to be,” Vanatta said. “I think we had a good attitude going into the race, and I think overall the girls just did a really good job. We’re trying to close the gaps, and I think it’ll take a couple more meets, but we’ll get there.”
The third Tiger was another first-time racer this season, as sophomore Liz Reida (Springfield, MO) made her debut with an 18:12.39 performance to earn 125th place. She was followed closely by fellow-sophomores Courtney Wood (Neosho, MO) and Courtney Brown (Palatine, IL). Wood crossed in 18:13.29, a two-second PR to get her 127th place. Brown was close behind in 18:13.81, to round out the Tigers’ scorers with 133rd place.
“[The race] was huge and packed, kind of muddy, kind of narrow, so it was definitely kind of a fight,” Reida said. “[Me, Wood, and Brown] were all really tight, which was good. Most of the race we ran together, within like ten feet. If we just keep working together and keep moving everyone up, then big things will happen.”
Sophomores Maria Effinger (Swansea, IL) and Ali Ross (St. Louis, MO), and freshman Sam Garrett (Columbia, MO) finished up the Lady Tigers’ first race, each earning a PR on the 5K course. Effinger knocked 29-seconds off her best finish, crossing the line in 18:18.58. Ross was next with a 31-second PR for 18:48.46, followed by Garrett at 19:00.21, a 22-second improvement from her debut as a Tiger at Iowa State.
“We didn’t get off the line like we’d hoped, but that is something that will come with time through our training yet this fall,” said Lynn. “We had a lot of bright spots out there today, and the women fought tough. That wasn’t an easy race. We’re amidst a pretty tough phase in our training right now, and the girls know the best is yet to come as we move closer towards November.”
The remainder of the Tigers competed in the Blue Races, starting with more PR performances from the men. Sophomore Eric Dillon (Ontario, Canada) led the way for the Tigers with a 10th place finish. He dropped 65-seconds off of his Iowa State time, crossing the line in 25:11.78. Sophomore Sam Dickerson (Moberly, MO) followed with a 17th place finish, improving by 61-seconds to earn a new PR of 25:20.27. Sophomore JT McCarthy (Burlington, IA) crossed the line in 26:14.85, good for an 11-second PR. Senior Blake Irwin (Bettendorf, IA) finished the course in 26:19.60, a 61-second improvement from his 27:18 PR from his freshman year. He was followed by freshman Hayden Merkel (Batesville, IN), who rounded out the day for the Tiger men with a 35-second improvement from his Tiger debut at Iowa State to run a new PR of 26:47.82.
The Lady Tigers in the Blue Race finished up the day for Mizzou. Freshman Faith Summey (Eldoret, Kenya) led the group of five, dropping 38-seconds off of her Iowa State finish to run 19:03.70. Sophomore Landon Wachter (Jackson, MO) took 40-seconds off her previous season best time, finishing in 19:08.83. Junior Chelsea Chrisman (Eureka, MO) was third for the black and gold, crossing the line in 19:15.40, followed closely by sophomore Brianna Westervelt (Kansas City, MO) in 19:16.01, a 29-second improvement on her previous PR. Freshman Maggie Angst (Lombard, IL) finished the day for the Tigers, crossing in 20:04.83.
“I can’t express how proud I am of all our student-athletes who fought tough out there today,” said Lynn. “For us to leave the course with every guy running a lifetime best and many of the women dropping significantly, I feel our student-athletes are understanding the training and excited to see where they can go from here. Hopefully we can keep this rolling.”
The Tigers will send a small crew of runners to Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO for the Gary Stoner Invitational this Saturday. Stay tuned to mutigers.com for more updates on Missouri Cross Country, and follow the team on Twitter @MIZ_TrackField.