With just two weeks before Conference Championships, the Missouri Western cross country team competed in their final tune-up meet at the Central Missouri Mule Run in Warrensburg this past Saturday.
In one of their tougher competitions, the Griffons struggled in the final standings with both teams finishing in the bottom half. The men finished 6 out of 7 while the women finished 6 out of 10. Assistant coach Cody Ingold was not as concerned about the placement, but more with where his team stands amongst some of the top NCAA Division II programs.
“Outside of the Missouri Southern meet, this was our toughest competition all year,” coach Ingold said. “All of the teams that beat us on the girl side were ranked nationally or regionally. The girls’ side was stacked. While the guys’ side was not as stacked. It allowed us to compete against a bunch of teams we haven’t raced against this year. It was good to see where we stacked up.”
The women competed in just their second 6k of the year. They improved their average time slightly, dropping it down to 24:03, five seconds faster than their previous 6k. Sophomore Megan Gillen finished the regular season with a perfect record by being the top lady Griffon in every meet this season. She finished this meet 14th overall with a time of 23:20.94. She was only three seconds shy of setting a personal best in the 6k.
Some familiar names rounded out the top three for the women. Sophomore Allison Goos finished 21st with a time of 23:42.19 and sophomore Kelsey Cox finished 26th with a time of 24:06.12. Cox was very pleased with her team’s effort.
“I say we did really good as a team,” Cox said. “We competed against a lot of our conference teams, and it was our first time this season competing against those difficult teams we will be seeing in a couple weeks.”
Although the final standings were not quite where the men’s team wanted to be, the times are beginning to get closer to where they were at the beginning of the season. They knocked nearly 45 seconds off their average 8k from two weeks ago, lowering it from 28:04 to 27:21. Sophomore Riley Gorham was the top male runner for the third consecutive meet, placing 15th overall with a time of 26:40.93. Gorham had trouble getting going, but was able to fight through and finish strong.
“I felt tired in my legs,” Gorham said. “I felt good during the end, the end stretch my legs felt fine. The beginning though, no, it was bad. I thought about dropping out a couple times, but I think I lived.”
Junior Brandon Colner finished 21st with a time of 26:55.72, while freshman James Zeismer finished 30th with a time of 27:10.12.
Next up for the cross country team is the MIAA Conference Championships. Both teams will start to limit the workload and prepare for this crucial meet on Nov. 3 in Emporia.