Tigers focus on long-term goals

Hearnes hosts Tiger Classic today
Friday, January 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:47 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Winning was one of the last things on Missouri track coach Rick McGuire’s mind when his team hosted Kansas and Kansas State last weekend.

Although Missouri finished third, McGuire said his team could have won if he had used some of his injured or tired athletes.

“I won’t pay that price,” McGuire said.

Today’s Tiger Classic meet, which begins at 4 p.m. in the Hearnes Center Fieldhouse, will go a step further in playing down the final standings, for it won’t be scored.

McGuire said this does not illustrate a disdain for winning, but an emphasis on long-term goals.

“This meet isn’t necessarily about breaking all the records,” McGuire said. “It’s about testing ourselves against really good competition as we prepare for some major, major competition over the next two weeks.”

Today’s meet will include Nebraska, Indiana and Wichita State.

“All four schools have some outstanding athletes,” McGuire said. “Some national star-caliber athletes.”

Although winning has not been the team’s ultimate goal lately, several Tigers have performed well.

Sophomore Chris Horn set personal bests in the triple jump, high jump and long jump in last weekend’s meet. Horn won the long jump with a 23-foot leap.

Horn said a steady improvement in his technique has been paying off lately.

“We’ve been working at that since we started,” Horn said.

Junior Jason Jones, a Rock Bridge graduate, performed well last weekend. He won the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.69 seconds.

McGuire said it is great to see athletes like Horn and Jones doing well.

“There was an opening, they jumped through it and had career nights,” McGuire said. “That’s a thrill when that happens.”

Senior shot putter Janae Strickland also won her event last weekend at 51-8¼ .

Strickland said these recent meets have helped her prepare for the more significant ones later in the season.

“I’m not where I want to be, but I’m close to that,” Strickland said.

McGuire said one way for his team to get where it wants to be is to compete against teams like Nebraska. The Cornhuskers men’s team is the defending Big 12 Conference indoor champion and the women’s team finished second.

“The University of Nebraska is one of those traditional track powers nationally year in and year out,” McGuire said.

Strickland in particular will have plenty of competition. Both of the Nebraska women’s shot putters are ranked in the top 20 in the nation. Junior Becky Breisch is fifth at 54-8. Leann Boerema is 20th at 51-¼ .

“I know the two girls we’re going to be throwing against,” Strickland said. “They’re great people, great athletes.”

Former Tigers Christian Cantwell and Derrick Peterson will also take part in the meet as unaffiliated athletes. Cantwell’s 68-3¾ throwis the longest indoor shot put in the world in 2004. Peterson has qualified for the Olympic trials as a middle-distance runner.

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