Storms takes first at Missouri Cross Country Challenge

Missouri cross-country runners are looking to the future after the only home meet of the season.

On Saturday morning, MU cross-country runners took the field at A.L. Gustin Golf Course for the 19th annual Missouri Cross Country Challenge.

Junior Max Storms won the men’s 8K race, and senior Kyle Rood finished seventh after making an exciting last-second push to the finish line. Eight Tigers in total finished in the top 21.

Storms, who finished eighth in last season’s race, jokingly suggested a minor diet change made the difference this year. “I also switched my cereal,” Storms said. “I used to eat Cap’N Crunch. Now I eat Cap’N Crunch with Crunch Berries.” Rood, on the other hand, spoke more emotionally about his performance.

“I’ve been out of competition for three years now and knew I had to be mentally strong,” he said. “This is huge for my confidence. I’ve overlooked myself at times and this proves that I’ve still got it.”

The men’s team has its sights set high after undergoing a transition at coach as Joe Lynn is entering his first year after he was hired Aug. 12.

“This is a great university,” Lynn said. “The academics are top-notch, it’s a beautiful campus, and the athletic department is very helpful. It’s really a complete package.”

Long-term, he said he has lofty goals but is taking the process one day at a time.

“As a program, we’re looking to raise the bar every year to build for the future,” Lynn said. “We want to gain that power. We want to be competing in the conference, regional and ultimately the NCAA tournaments.”

The women’s team also performed well, as true freshman Liz Reida placed fourth. Reida spoke about the unique approach she takes to preparing for meets.

“I’m a big visualizer,” Reida said. "I like to think what it’ll feel like when I’m running and when I cross the finish line.” This was the team’s second race of the season, and women’s coach Rebecca Wilmes said the team’s primary intent was to prepare the players for the upcoming challenges ahead.

“We’re not training for today, but for down the road,” Wilmes said.

Although this is the only home cross country meet all year, Wilmes said the program knew going in that it must keep the bigger picture in mind.

“We’ve got to train smart,” Wilmes said. “We work extremely hard, but we need to be ready and healthy come championship time. We’ve got our eyes on the national title.”

The team typically trains at A.L. Gustin Golf Course, but Halter said the challenging steep slopes offset the familiarity with the course.

“Even though it’s in the middle of the country, this is probably one of the top five most difficult courses to run in the nation with all the slopes,” Halter said.

A developing story is freshman Dawon Bacon, who walked on to the team this year. Unfortunately, while training by playing basketball at MU’s Recreational Complex, he suffered a sprained ankle and will be out for three to five weeks.

“It’s pretty difficult from a mental aspect, especially because I’m looking to get a scholarship,” Bacon said.

The Tigers will compete next in the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30 in South Bend, Ind.

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