Both cross-country teams first at Central Methodist

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The Central Missouri cross-country teams have their eyes on the conference meet set for homecoming weekend Oct. 24 after a successful weekend of competition.
Both the Mules and Jennies took home first place at the Gary Stoner Invitational hosted by Central Methodist University. After a three-week break from competition, the Mules and Jennies earned team wins as the men finished first in the four-team field with 17 points. The Jennies totaled 33 points in their win.
Head coach Kirk Pedersen is out with illness for the season. Assistant coach Ben Barrows said the rosters are focused on getting through the year.
“It’s been a transition for all of us, definitely without Kirk around,” Barrows said. “We have been focusing on progress everyday for both teams. We have young teams for both the Mules and Jennies. Thinking about getting better everywhere, progressing and getting through the season is so important.”
This is Barrow’s first year joining the track and field coaching staff as a volunteer assistant in 2015-16. Barrows follows up a successful career as a member of the Mules cross-country and track and field teams. Last year, as a senior, he claimed All-MIAA honors by finishing second in the outdoor 5,000m run at the conference meet.
Head track and field coach Kip Janvrin has stepped in to help the team with Pedersen out.
“I couldn’t do it without Kip and a lot of other people helping out,” Barrows said. “They know I’m kind of being thrown into the fire right now and I need help. They also need my help as well and I know that. The support around here is amazing.”
At the Gary Stoner Invitational, senior Michael Gawlick, sophomores Ty Hughes and Ian Frazier secured the first three positions. Gawlick was the individual winner as he finished the 8K race in 26:02.83. Behind him was Hughes with a time of 26:07.29 and Ian Frazier with 26.07.74 in second and third place, respectively.
Juniors Michael Frazier finished with a time of 26:48.74 to take fifth place and Jean-Pierre Rodriguez-Espinoza finished sixth with a time of 27:04.03. Other Mules with top-10 finishes were freshman Isaac Calvert placing seventh (27:11.87), Sophomore Kenny Froebe at ninth (27:35.87) and freshman Ben Sporleder placing 10th (27:45.97).
Barrows said the Mules run well together.
“We definitely lean and depend on each other when times are tough and our racing style is going right along with that,” Barrows said. “We really have a good pack mentality on both sides. I think the successful teams in the conference depend on how well their pack can run. We want to move that pack up every race because that’s what our success depends on.”
As for the Jennies, they took first in a field of five teams. Three runners finished in the top-10. Freshman Stephanie Boan was the top finisher for the Jens, placing fourth in 19:46.68 in the 5K. Also in the top five was senior Coleen Grone, placing fifth in 19:54.53.
Barrows said the teams are like family and are inspired to run well for the recovering Pedersen.
“The fact (is) that we are a family and we stick and work together,” Barrows said. “Our love for the sport keeps us running strong and we know Kirk will be proud of what we are doing and work towards the common goal and make Kirk proud.”
The next time cross-country competes will be at the MIAA Championships Oct. 24, hosted by Fort Hays State. Race time is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Barrows said the teams have out-run preseason rankings and projections. The Mules were picked No. 6 in preseason conference ranks, while the Jens were picked No. 8.
“Ultimately, we want to do better than people think and projected,” Barrows said. “The goal is always to win. Sometimes that’s not always in our favor, but we do everything in our power to make that happen. Hopefully give our best race that day and say we did the best we could.”