Wildcats take third at Missouri Southern


Story by Sara

As they stepped up to the starting line Saturday, a heavy rain beat down in the faces of the Baker University cross country team members at the Missouri Southern Stampede in Joplin, Mo.

The Wildcats had to watch their footing throughout the course, but these conditions did not slow down the nationally-recognized teams.

The No. 24 men’s cross country team fought through the rain and finished third behind Southwestern College and the University of Saint Mary.

Senior Aaron Caldwell led the way for Baker in the men’s 8,000-meter race with an eighth-place finish and a time of 26:06. Freshman Jeremy Bryan joined Caldwell in the top 10 with a time of 26:08.31.

Finishing one hundredth of a second behind Jeremy, freshman Justin Bryan placed 11th in the race. Seniors Eric Larson and Taylor Nall finished 40th and 52nd respectively, to complete the top five for the Wildcats.

Caldwell, Jeremy and Justin Bryan, Larson and Nall also ran the five fastest times in the Wildcats’ season opener during the Maple Leaf Invitational Sept. 1.

The women’s cross country team is receiving votes in the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, and proved it belonged Saturday by placing third in the meet. Baker finished ahead of all of the other participating NAIA schools, including Heart of America Athletic Conference rival Central Methodist University.

The Eagles were the top-ranked preseason team in the HAAC, so junior Lauren Jaqua said it was part of Baker’s goal to finish ahead of the team.

“We knew that we could be in the top three, and so we came out and we did it,” Jaqua said. “So, we are very happy with how we finished.”

After winning the Maple Leaf Invitational for the second consecutive year Sept. 1, Jaqua led the way for the Wildcats again in the 5,000-meter race at the Missouri Southern Stampede. She had a time of 18:52, which was good for a fifth-place finish.

Jaqua said the combination of rain, standing water and mud made the course challenging, but the Wildcats were able to push through as five runners were able to finish in the top 50.

Sophomore Kerry Kurta, juniors Ashley McBride and Megan Rosa and senior Lindsey Brown all placed in the top half of individual participants.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will have next weekend off, then the men will run in the Rim Rock Farm Classic Sept. 29 in Lawrence, and the women will compete in the Planet Sub Invitational Sept. 28 in Emporia.