MU cross country women finish 22nd

The dream season for the Missouri women's cross country team ended Nov. 20. And despite finishing last in the NCAA Championships, team members make no excuses.

"It's misleading to think of this as 22nd out of 22 teams," MU coach Jeff Pigg said. "We finished 22nd out of 294 Division I cross country schools. We don't have to make apologies to anyone."

Missouri's 495 points left them at the back of the 22-team field. Iowa State, running on its home course, beat the same Missouri squad that it had lost to at the Region V Championships. The Cyclones finished in 20th place with 478 points.

Junior Rebecca Davis was the first finisher for MU in the 5-kilometer race. Davis completed the course in a time of 18 minutes, 17 seconds, good for 66th place.

"Davis did a great job. She went out cautious at [the 120th starting position], then moved up to 66th," Pigg said. "In a field that good, people are hard to catch."

Providence College, which entered the race as the top team in the nation, won with 88 points, swiping the national title from No. 5 Colorado by a 35-point margin.

MU women's team, which lost no seniors to graduation last year, will not be as fortunate this season. However, the team will not lose Kristen Allen, Rebecca Davis and Jessica Haremza — the Tigers' top three runners. In addition, many runners who were not in the top seven this year will be back.

Given time to mature, the large freshman recruiting class could also play a role in continuing Missouri's prosperity. Experience from this year's national meet will only help the team in the future, Pigg said.

Prospects for next year's men's team also look encouraging. The youthful squad will return all runners. Several of the athletes on this year's team who have comparable talent will add strong depth to spots further down on the traveling team. Also, Chad Williamson, a top runner from MU's previous two teams who was red-shirted this year, will boost the talent level.

The long-promised all-weather outdoor track will be in place by autumn of 1996, enabling coaches Rich McGuire and Pigg to lure top high school runners to Missouri. There is also talk of holding the first Big 12 Conference Championships on MU's track in 1997.

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