The race to the NCAA Championships continues for Missouri’s cross country teams.
The postseason begins today for the Tigers, who will race in the Big 12 Conference Championships in Austin, Texas.
Last year, the women’s team finished second to Colorado. Valerie Lauver finished fifth in 20 minutes, 59 seconds, and Amanda Bales was 23rd in 21:46.
“Last year I was sick with a temperature and a fever, and I was throwing up after the race,” Bales said. “It wasn’t pretty. I’d definitely like to do better this year.”
The men’s team finished ninth last year, beating Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Coach Jared Wilmes said that the biggest thing for his team to focus on is staying together and having patience during the race.
“The race isn’t won in the first half mile, but it is lost there,” Wilmes said.
Bales said that although the team tries to focus on its race, it will look to compete with Colorado, Baylor and Texas.
“We’ll be looking for those girls to try to get in front of them,” Bales said.
In the NCAA Pre-Nationals race Saturday, the women’s team finished sixth out of 33. Bales finished 12th in 20:44. Junior Serena Ramsey finished 29th (21:09), Lauver 36th and Jill Peterson 37th.
“I think Serena and Jill have done a tremendous job,” Wilmes said. “They’re two girls who are just steady that you can count on.”
The men’s team finished 19th out of 35, defeating five Midwest Region opponents. Sophomore Tim Ross was first for the Tigers, placing 40th in 24:44. Senior Ryan Hampton did not race because of a minor knee injury.
“We decided it would be in his best interest not to endanger his health,” Wilmes said.
Hampton is questionable to race today. Last year, he finished 11th, improving from 79th the previous year.
Assistant coach Rebecca Wilmes and will not be at the race because of her pregnancy. Jared Wilmes said that he was confident in her preparation of the women’s team. He added that the outcome of the race often depends on the coaching beforehand, not during.
“There’s only so much you can say during the meet to make a difference,” Wilmes said. “You can’t call a time out and say ‘Let’s change game plans.’”