Cross Country Season in Review
The 2009 Missouri State Cross Country team competed strongly with a roster full of newcomers and low on seniors. The Bears competed in six competitions all season, finishing outside of the top ten only once. Missouri State was lead by sophomore sensation Terry Phillips, who was the top finisher for the Bears in every race.
The Missouri State roster faced a stiff overhaul this season, with departures from top runners Jamie Vest and Pasca Cheruiyot. The new roster comprised of five returners and five freshmen. The lone senior on the squad was Staci Nelson (Chatham, Ill.). Juniors Stephanie Harres (Columbia, Ill.) and Mari-Jean Vance (Columbia, Mo.) rounded out the group of upperclassmen.
The newcomers brought in by head coach Greg Hipp faced the difficulties associated with contributing right away. Emily Beaver (Diamond, Mo.), Abby Schlater (Council Bluffs, Iowa), Ashton Stubbs (Platte City, Mo.) and Maggie Sutor (Mokena, Ill.) stepped up to the task. Beaver, Schlater and Stubbs were routinely in the top five for the Bears all season.
The Bears opened the season on Sept. 4, with a dual against Southwest Baptist in the four mile distance. Though team scoring was not kept, the Missouri State runners finished 1-9. The last Bear across the line finished a full six seconds before the first SBU athlete.
Following the opening dual, the Bears hosted the Missouri State Classic on Sept. 19. The Classic featured some of the top talent in the Midwest with teams such as Kansas State and Tulsa competing at the Missouri State Cross Country Facility. In the event, the forecasted rain held out just long enough for the Bears to tally a fourth-place finish in the field of eight. Leading the way for Missouri State was Phillips, whose time of 17:36.0 was good enough for fifth place out of 79 runners. Beaver, in her first collegiate meet, ran a strong 18:46 and finished 17th overall.
Missouri State then took to the road, travelling to Chicago, Ill. to compete in the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational on Oct. 3. In this meet, Phillips captured the first meet title in her collegiate career. Phillips’ time of 17:40 was eight seconds ahead of conference rival Tonya Nero of Wichita State, who finished second. Missouri State earned a second place finish behind Wichita State in the meet. Also scoring for the Bears was Beaver (18:41, 24th overall), Nelson (18:42, 25th overall), Stubbs (18:43, 26th overall) and Schlater (18:54,31st overall).
The Bears wrapped up their regular season in Fayetteville, Ark. on Oct. 17 at the Chile Pepper Festival. This contest was the first in the 6K distance for the Bears all season. Conditions for the meet were very muddy, but the Bears persevered and earned an eighth-place finish among the field of 34. Again leading the way was Phillips, who turned in a time of 21:26.09. Phillips finished 12th overall and ninth among scored runners. The Bears continued to compete against top competition, as schools such as Texas Tech, BYU, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and University of Missouri all participated in the festival.
The road trip ended with an appearance at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship in Peoria, Ill. Conditions for the meet were brutal, as standing water could be seen at numerous points along the course. Despite the rough terrain, Phillips again paced the field, winning the first conference championship of her career with a time of 18:32. Phillips became the third athlete to ever win a cross country championship, and coach Hipp’s second consecutive individual title. Though Phillips finished first, Missouri State was fifth in the field of 10, a mere 15 points out of second place.
Though the Bears finished fifth in the conference meet, their season was not over, as Missouri State played host to the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regional for Cross Country. Thirty-three of the top teams in the Midwest traveled to Springfield to partake in the event. The weather for this event led to ideal conditions for the meet. The day began at noon with a 10K men’s race, followed by the women running their own 6K race. In this event, the top two team finishes and the top four runners not affiliated with a top two team advance to the national contest. The Bears finished 12th as a team, and Phillips led the way for the Bears with an 18th-place finish. The regional marked the first time a race with a 6K distance has ever been run at Springfield Underground.
Missouri State may not have made the national meet, but the program continued to earn high honors. Sophomore Terry Phillips won numerous accolades for her efforts. Among these honors were MVC Runner of the Week, MVC Scholar Athlete of the Week, First-team all-MVC and All-Midwest region team. Additionally, Phillips finished the season with the best time in the 5K among all women in the MVC. Phillips and Beaver also made the all-time top twenty for Missouri State. Phillips’ time of 17:36 in the Missouri State Classic is tied for eighth on the all-time list for 5K. Phillips time of 21:24.6 at the Midwest regional puts her fourth all-time in the 6K and Beaver’s time of 22:19 at the Chile Pepper Festival is 20th.<-->