Sept. 26, 2012
Columbia, Mo. - The Missouri Cross Country teams are back in action this weekend as they prepare to travel to Louisville, KY, where they will face their first real test of the season at the Greater Louisville Classic. Held at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, site of the NCAA Championships on November 17, the meet will pit the Tigers against some of the top programs in the country.
The day will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with the Men's Gold Race, where the Tigers will hope to maintain the momentum after their win at Iowa State two weeks ago. The Tigers' lead pack of senior Max Storms (Kansas City, MO), juniors Merid Seleshi (Ontario, Canada) and Hayden Legg (Mexico, MO), sophomore Bryant Blahnik (Red Wing, MN), and freshmen Tyler Schneider (Schaumburg, IL) and Evan Chiplock (Saginaw, MI) claimed six of the top ten spots at Iowa St., and will be joined by senior Phil Bascio (St. Louis, MO), junior Tyler Compton (Buffalo, MO), and freshmen Kenny Cushing (Wentzville, MO) and Joe McKenna (Madison, WI) in a field with three of the top thirty ranked teams in the country. Topping this list is the University of Texas, who was ranked sixth in the most recent national poll released by the USTFCCCA (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association). Iona College is another top ten team competing in Louisville, keeping a consistent eighth place standing thus far this season. Columbia University rounds off the list, landing in the 28th spot in the last poll.
"Since day one this men's team has been focused and working hard together, so it'll be exciting to see where we are and what we need to improve on as the season moves forward," said second year Head Coach, Joe Lynn
. "We've really adapted and executed a team first mentality so far. The guys are comfortable running with one another, so we're hoping we can replicate our performance from two weeks ago."
This weekend will also mark Mizzou Cross Country's first meeting with fellow-SEC members, as four other conference teams will also travel to Louisville for Saturday's meet. Mississippi, Kentucky, Auburn, and Georgia, who was ranked 30th in the nation in prior early season polls, will help the Tigers gauge their standing in the SEC leading up to the Oct. 26 Championships in Nashville.
"It'll be exciting to officially race other members of the SEC. These are quality teams we aren't real familiar with, so Saturday will give us some insight into how to prepare for late October," commented Lynn.
The Women's Gold Race will follow at 10:15 a.m., and will boast arguably tougher competition for the Tigers, who are coming off a second-place finish at Iowa State. Bailey Belvis (Prosper, TX), who began her senior season with an individual win at Iowa St., will be joined by junior Kaite Vanatta (Littleton, CO), sophomores Courtney Brown (Palatine, IL), Maria Effinger (Swansea, IL), Ali Ross (St. Louis, MO), Courtney Wood (Neosho, MO), Liz Reida (Springfield, MO), and freshman Sam Garrett (Columbia, MO) in the women's elite race. Both Reida and Vanatta will make their season debuts this weekend, and Coach Lynn is looking forward to their positive impact on the course.
"I thought our first meet went about as well as it could have for us at that point in the season," said Lynn. "In the 2 weeks since, I've feel we've made some great progression and will continue to do so as the season moves on. Obviously adding individuals like Kaitie and Liz into the mix now makes us that much better."
Like the men, the Lady Tigers will be running against some of the top teams in the country. However, for the women, this means last year's NCAA National Runners-Up, and current top-ranked University of Washington. Other top-30 teams competing on Saturday include Arizona (12th), Michigan State (14th), Penn State (17th), and University of Wisconsin (29th).
The Mizzou women will also meet with some of the top-ranked SEC programs, including two nationally ranked top-ten teams in Vanderbilt (8th) and Arkansas (10th). Kentucky, who received votes in the last national poll, will also be present, along with Georgia, Auburn, and Mississippi.
The last race for the Mizzou men will be at 10:45 a.m. with senior Blake Irwin (Bettendorf, IA), sophomores Sam Dickerson (Moberly, MO), Eric Dillon (Ontario, Canada), JT McCarthy (Burlington, IA), and freshman Hayden Merkel (Batesville, IN) in the Men's Blue Race. The Women's Blue Race at 11:30 a.m. will finish the day for the Tigers, with races from junior Chelsea Chrisman (Eureka, MO), sophomores Landon Wachter (Jackson, MO) and Brianna Westervelt (Kansas City, MO), and freshmen Maggie Angst (Lombard, IL) and Faith Summey (Eldoret, Kenya) competing.
The Tigers will have a week down after returning home from Louisville to prepare for the Adidas Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, WI on October 12. Check mutigers.com for more updates on both squads, and follow the team on Twitter @MIZ_TrackField.