COLUMBIA — Missouri junior Max Storms knew where he would make his move.
Saturday was the third time Storms had run in the Missouri Cross Country Challenge at A.L. Gustin Golf Course, and he has run there countless times in practice, so he used the knowledge to his advantage. When a group of Kansas runners took the early lead in the men's collegiate race, he wasn't too worried.
"Coach told us to go out pretty conservative, so that’s what we did," Storms said. "We just kind of packed it up all together."
Storms knew the big downhill slope on the course would allow the Missouri runners to make a comeback, and he found his way to the front of the pack then held on to win the 8K race in 26 minutes and 43.07 seconds.
Both Missouri men's and women's cross country teams placed second at Saturday's event, and Hickman’s boys team placed fourth in the high school division.
Storms' strategy didn't go completely as planned, though.
"I was hoping we’d have a better group, but that didn’t happen. I just tried to stake a position up front and tried to break them," Storms said.
Tigers senior Kyle Rood finished seventh in 27:10.81. Rood has struggled with injuries for the past three years, so this was his first healthy race since his freshman year. He said he was proud that he overcame the “mental hurdle” of racing that occurs in the middle of the race when he’s tired and in pain.
“The only thing that gets me through is just not to think about it. Just keep running. It seems very simple, but it’s one of the hardest concepts I’ve ever tried to learn,” Rood said.
Missouri men’s coach Joe Lynn said that this race was a “rust-buster” for his team to get back into racing before the bigger meets later in the season. He admitted some of his runners had tired legs today, but said his team used this meet as an opportunity to prepare for an important race at the University of Notre Dame at the end of September.
On the women’s side, freshman Liz Reida was fourth in the women’s collegiate 5K race in 18:18.24..
Coach Rebecca Wilmes described Reida’s race as a “huge lifetime best.” All three of the Tigers' top women's finishers were freshmen, and Wilmes said she is excited to see strength in the young runners on the team.
“They are tough, you know. We recruited them, and they’re tough,” Wilmes said. “They’re starting to get some confidence, and hopefully more racing will help them develop more confidence and assert themselves.”
Junior Nicole Mello of Hickman won the high school girls race. She finished in 18:53.60, more than a minute faster than the second place runner. In the high school boys race, Hickman senior Devin Sander was third out of 57 runners, coming in at 16:25.92.