The Missouri Southern men and women cross country teams were in action in Bolivar last Saturday as they participated in the Southwest Baptist Invite. The men participated in a 7k race, while the women did a 5k loop.
The Southern cross country teams hit the ground running in their season-opening meet, with both squads winning both team titles and individual titles.
On the men’s side, the sixth-ranked nationally Lions won the competition with both the first and second place finishers wearing the green and gold. In addition to first and second-place finishes, the Lions also had four of the top seven finishes, and six in the top 12.
Leading the way for Southern was sophomore Gidieon Kimutai, who won the individual title with a time of 20:04.43. Newcomer Ryan Riddle, a sophomore transfer from the University of Tulsa, finished in second place with a time of 20:12.50. The third-place finisher, Denzel Kiptoo from Central Missouri, finished a whopping 27-seconds behind Riddle.
Coach Jamie Burnham had high praise for Riddle. “Ryan is a great addition to the team, and having him on the team gives us some more depth,” said Burnham.
Lion senior Cody Berry finished in fourth place with a time of 20:45.13, while fellow senior teammate Nickson Kiptoo finished seventh with a time of 20:48.86. Other Lions who placed were Jared Ozee (11th) Kevin Koester (12th) and Michael Shanahan (23rd).
This is the second consective week that the men have won their event as a team.
On the women’s side, the Lions came away with another first-place finish, as junior Julianna Determan finished the 5k loop with a time of 18:03.80. She finished five seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
Other notable Lions women’s finishers were junior Ashlee Kuykendall (6th), sophomore Kelie Henderson (9th), sophomore Alice Evans (13th) and junior Mady Gepford (19th).
The Southern women won the team title with a score of 45, beating out the host Southern Baptist for the first-place spot. The men also won the team title, scoring 42 points, which was 25-points ahead of second-place finisher, Central Missouri.
Even though the team is performing at an elite level, Burnham still knows there is space to improve. “It was a great meet for us individually and for each of the teams. We know that we have to keep improving each week,” said Burnham.
Kimutai and Determan also were awareded by the MIAA this week for being the best cross country athletes in the MIAA.
The Southern men and women will be back in action on Sept. 21 as the Lions will host the 30th-annual Southern Stampede at the Tom Rutlidge Cross Country Course on campus.