Cross Country starts slow in Joplin

Cross Country Sports

The Missouri Western cross-country team traveled to Joplin, Missouri, last weekend for the Missouri Southern Stampede. After the Griffons hosted a smaller meet earlier in the season, Joplin provided competition from over 30 different schools across NCAA Division I and Division II schools. The women’s team placed 18th, while the men finished 23rd. This second-year program held their own, but assistant coach, Cody Ingold, thought the team showed their youth as both the men and women failed to take control early.

“We responded to the competition okay, but we’re young,” Ingold said. “The women’s side raced pretty well, but I think we got wrapped up in the competition a little bit. We battled back later in the race. The guys have a lot of learning to do. We got swallowed up early, and it’s just hard to come back.”

Missouri Western did have some standouts as sophomore Megan Gillen was again the top finisher for the women. Gillen placed 76 out of 230 women and finished with a time of 19:24.09, a 90 second improvement from two weeks ago. She did face some heavy competition from her own teammates as freshman Paige Kvale and senior Alison Nutt finished only three and four seconds behind Gillen. Like any good competitor, Gillen loves having teammates that force her and the team to be better.

“It’s awesome! It keeps us all honest,” Gillen said. “We all push each other everyday in practice, and that’s how we get better.”

The competition may be even fiercer at the top over on the men’s side between junior Brandon Colner and freshman Andrew Wright. After Wright bested Colner two weeks ago, Colner returned the favor this week by finishing ahead of the freshman. Colner knew this was going to be a battle even before the meets started up.

“I knew coming into the season that [Wright] was going to be in really good shape. He’s a really good runner,” Colner said. “I’m trying to piggy off him and push each other through the race.”

Coach Ingold hopes that they, not only challenge each other, but get the rest of the men’s team to compete better as well.

“Those front two are probably going to be constantly switching off,” Ingold said. “[Colner] is a year older eligibility wise, so he’ll continue to push Andrew, and then they’ll hopefully flip back and forth and get those other guys on board.”

Colner finished 69 out of 182 with an 8k time of 27:19.01 while Wright finished 96th with a time of 27:51.7.

The cross-country team will next compete at The Rim Rock Classic in Lawrence, Kansas, on Sept. 29.