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November 9, 2012
Springfield, Mo. - The Missouri Cross Country teams battled strong winds and a tough field today at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Springfield. The Men came out with one individual National Qualifier and All-Region honor in senior Max Storms (Kansas City, MO) and a 5th place overall finish, coming in ahead of No. 29 Kansas. Out of the seven men who competed, only four had ever raced a 10K before on the cross country course, and all four earned new personal records on the Missouri State University course.
"I'm proud of Max, we'll have a Tiger at the National meet no matter what," Head Coach Joe Lynn said. "Those guys he was running with aren't slouches, a lot of those guys were in the National Trials for the Olympics over the summer. So Max ran tough, and it's good to see him do so well."
The Mizzou Men took control of the race early on, leading the pack for the majority of the 10K course. Storms stepped up and took the lead for the Tigers, finishing 18th overall in 30:47.38, breaking his previous 10K personal record of 31:21 from the 2010 Midwest Regional. Storms is the first man to make it the NCAA National Championship since 2008, when Garrett Jeffries finished 95th at the Championship meet.
"It was awesome. Going into the race, I knew it could be the last time I wear the Missouri uniform in a cross country race so I wanted to make sure I didn't leave anything out on the course," Storms said. "I'm just really happy I was on this team this year. I'm proud of all our guys, I love them all like family and I hope they're with me next week in Louisville."
Sophomore Bryant Blahnik (Red Wing, MN) was the 2nd finisher for the Tigers squad, making his debut 10K appearance in 31:08.72 to finish 30th.
"We ran the best race we could have today, whether we get into [the National Championship] or not, we can't be hanging our heads," Blahnik said. "That was a new experience for me, I didn't know what to expect. I was happy, we ran great, packed it in well. I mean, having four within the top 34 is awesome.
Juniors Merid Seleshi (Ontario, Canada) and Hayden Legg (Mexico, MO) were next for the Tigers, both finishing with new personal records. Seleshi crossed the line in 31:09.96 to take 33rd and beat out his previous PR of 32:47 from the 2011 Regional. Legg was just behind in 34th, finishing the course in 31:11.52 to take down his PR of 31:44 from the 2011 Regional.
Junior Tyler Compton (Buffalo, MO) rounded out the top five for the Missouri crew, earning a new PR of 31:49.27 to take 58th. Freshman Evan Chiplock (Saginaw, MI) and sophomore Sam Dickerson (Moberly, MO) finished out the Mizzou performers with 70th and 92nd places, respectively, for their first 10K performances. Chiplock navigated the course in 32:09.12, and Dickerson in 32:41.17.
"I'm proud of the guys," Lynn said. "They knew what was coming and they handled it well. Finishing 5th in a regional like this is big, so keeping our fingers crossed that we're one of those last teams in[to the National Championship]."
The Lady Tigers also faced a tough field of competition, and came out with a 16th place finish. Senior Bailey Belvis (Prosper, TX) once again took the lead for the young Tiger squad, taking 31st place in 21:37.36.
"It was a tough course all around, probably one of the tougher ones we've been on all season. We did a lot to prepare for today, and I think we had a pretty solid race, although maybe not what we had hoped for," Belvis said. "We've never been this strong in our careers, and that gives us a lot of confidence. I think come track season, we're really going to start reaping the benefits, even more than we already have."
She was followed by sophomore Liz Reida (Springfield, MO) who finished in 21:53.71 to earn 45th. Freshman Faith Summey (Eldoret, Kenya) stepped up as the third Tiger finisher, finishing in 22:45.87. Sophomores Courtney Wood (Neosho, MO) and Ali Ross (St. Louis, MO) finished out the Tigers' scorers, running 22:59.47 and 23:04.45, respectively. Freshman Sam Garrett (Columbia, MO) rounded out the Tigers' competitors, finishing the 6K course in 23:26.15.
"The women ran tough, they got out great. It was good to see Bailey up near the front of that group finishing 31st in not easy conditions. Liz battled and really closed well at the end for us," said Lynn, who is finishing up his first year as the Women's Head Coach. "We're a pretty young group, and I think we'll get back up there. Now we're looking forward to getting the track season going and doing some big things there to help us in the future."
Storms will travel to Louisville, KY, next week for the Nov. 17 NCAA National Championship. Stay tuned to mutigers.com for more updates on your Tigers, and follow the teams on Twitter @MIZ_TrackField.