The men and women’s cross-country teams are gearing up for the 2019 MIAA Championships. This year, the conference championship is being held in Joplin on Saturday, Oct. 26.
Each team got to enter 10 competitors and will have to declare those runners today.
According to head cross country coach Russ Jewett, performing well in the championships is not based off one individual competitor’s performance. Winning a conference title is a team effort.
“Well, I mean our folks on the women’s side, Piper Misse is gonna be very important for us as the team captain and the performance leader to this date,” Jewett said. “So, in this conference championship you don’t win it or do well with just one person… We have to have all five kids run well to have any kind of a chance at winning a championship for the women and we’re really an underdog, a pretty good underdog, to Missouri Southern in their home…”
Leading up to the championships, both the men and women’s cross-country teams had two and a half weeks of uninterrupted preparation. The last competition was the Kansas Rim Rock Classis on Oct. 5.
“Well, we only want to compete a certain number of times before the championship,” Jewett said. “It’s just the way we plan things. It is unusual but we definitely wanted to go to the competitions that we have. This worked out that there were two weekends between our last competition, which was at KU… So, just coincidence but you can look at it as an opportunity to really focus our training for two and half weeks… to get ready, fine tune, (and) really work on weaknesses and things that get us ready for the conference championship.”
Jewett hopes to see the women’s team win the title once again and hopes that the men place in the top five.
“Well, on our women’s team we hope to contend for a title again… it’s gonna be awfully tough to beat Missouri Southern and there are a couple other teams that certainly could beat us as well and we’re just gonna have to have everybody race together… On the men’s side, it’s a little different outlook there. We don’t have any kind of a chance to win the thing with the squad that we have in uniform this year. They’re great kids and they worked hard. If we can be in the top half this year, the conference has gotten a lot tougher, deeper on the men’s side, and that’s reflected in what the outlook and goals are for us. We’d do well to be in the top five or six, I think, in this conference championship.”
Last year, the women’s cross-country team captured their second straight MIAA Championship title with a low score of 26 points in the six-kilometer race. The Pitt State women bested Southwest Baptist University who came in second.
Last year, Missouri Southern State University won the conference title with a low score of 31 points. The Pitt State cross-country men finished sixth with a score of 174 points.