Curtis Meyer reporter
Jentrie Alderson, a freshman from Salina, Kansas, was named MIAA runner of the week after she placed second overall at the annual MSSU Stampede. The closest Division Two athlete was her teammate Lara Murdock, a sophomore from Colby, Kansas.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a MIAA cross country athlete of the week, off the top of my head I don’t know who the last one was. We come off (of) a big weekend where every team in the conference competes and we earn that honor and beat most of them head-to-head, yeah that’s pretty special honor, especially right away in Jentrie’s career,” said head distance coach Ben Barrows.
Pittsburg State Women’s Cross Country placed second in a field of 26 competitors, behind the University of Arkansas. Alderson was a part of that win, running five kilometers in just 16 minutes, 53.76 seconds. Teammate Murdock was 10 seconds behind Alderson, fourth overall.
“They’re all so great and motivating, I would not want to change my team at all. In high school I didn’t have a great team atmosphere, so being able to come and do a program like this, that’s been so helpful,” said Alderson.
With an excellent performance by Pittsburg State at MSSU, the women’s team made the national USTFCCCA Coaches top 30 poll, making them a nationally ranked team. Additionally, the regional rankings have Pitt State moving two spots, from seventh a week ago to currently 5th.
However, the work doesn’t stop there for the team.
“I think there’s a lot of success to come, so I don’t want to settle or be too happy now because I know there’s a lot more to come, I’ll celebrate in the moment, but keep my eyes forward,” said Alderson.
Within the MIAA conference, Pitt State has earned 19 Outdoor and Indoor Championships, combining men and women’s all in nine years’ time.
“The conference meet is very important to us, we want to win that thing, it’s important to Pittsburg State,” said Barrows.
While a men’s or women’s team has qualified for state every year since Barrows has been a coach, they haven’t won at the same time.
“I think the biggest goal this year is to get both teams on the starting line in Seattle, on Dec. 2, that’s when the national meet is. The first three years I was at Pitt State the women qualified, the fourth year was COVID, and the fifth year just the men qualified. We’ve never been denied a trip to nationals as a coaching staff, but I’d really like to get 14 men and women on the line,” said Barrows.
This year seems promising for the cross-country teams, with the hope that this will be the year that they can get men’s and women’s cross country on the national level at the same time.
“It just keeps getting better and better every year, both men and women, and together this year I think it’s the best it’s ever been,” said Barrows.
For Alderson, Pittsburg State was the perfect choice for a school.
“I love Pitt State, it was such a hard decision, trying to decide where to go when committing, but I have no doubt in my mind that this is the place I was meant to be,” said Alderson.