Men's preview written by Quenten Lasseter
Women's preview written by Grace McLaughlin
Last year's MIAA Championship meet was not much of a contest as Missouri Southern won the team title by 70 points over Nebraska-Kearney. In 2019, the Lions will look to defend their title with yet another strong showing.
Gideon Kimutai (TSR #1) has been dominant all season, proving to be the best runner in the country. Kimutai will lead the Lions this weekend after they successfully won the Southwest Baptist Invite and Missouri Southern Stampede. They also had an impressive 2nd place outing at the Lewis Crossover Classic, falling behind only Grand Valley State (TSR #3).
Teammate Ryan Riddle has stepped up this year as well, making a case for the Lions to be more than just a conference winning team in 2019. He finished 6th at the Lewis Crossover meet which helped propel them to their runner-up performance. Meanwhile, Nickson Kiptoo and Cody Berry continue to be some of the best #3 and #4 scorers that we have seen this year.
Northwest Missouri is the surprise team in the conference this year after they finished 10th out of 11 teams last year at the MIAA Championships. They have turned things around in a big way this year as they will contest Missouri Southern for the conference title. The Bearcats landed on our TSR Top 10 in our most recent update at #10.
Leading the charge for them this year is Karim Achengli who is a returning All-American. However, it has been the transfers of Jhordan Ccope and Augostine Lisoreng who have bolstered this team. The added low-stick firepower of these two alongside Achengli has helped this team reach another level in terms of where they could possibly finish, not only at their conference meet, but the national meet as well.
Northwest Missouri had a strong outing at the Chile Pepper Festival by placing 7th overall. They had three men in the top 40, along with their #4 man in the top 60. The only problem will be the Bearcats' final scorer. If they want to have any shot at taking down Missouri Southern, they will have to put all their pieces together this weekend as the two teams face off against each other.
1. Missouri Southern Lions
2. NW Missouri Bearcats
3. Nebraska-Kearney Lopers
1. Gideon Kimutai (Missouri Southern)
2. Karim Achengli (NW Missouri)
3. Cody Berry (Missouri Southern)
4. Corbin Hansen (Nebraska-Kearney)
5. Jhoordan Ccope (NW Missouri)
6. Ryan Riddle (Missouri Southern)
7. Nickson Kiptoo (Missouri Southern)
8. Augostine Lisoreng (NW Missouri)
9. Kevin Koester (Missouri Southern)
10. Mike Lagat (NW Missouri)
On the women’s side of things, Missouri Southern has had the best season so far. They started off with winning the Southwest Baptist University XC Invite. They then had a fantastic 3rd place showing at the Southern Stampede before having a but of an off day at the Lewis Conference Crossover by placing 18th in the team standings
At the Southern Stampede, the team's apparent front-runner was Ashlee Kuykendall who placed 3rd overall, but she did not race at Lewis which would explain their 18th place showing.
Instead, Kelie Henderson and Julianna Determan led the way at Lewis by placing 44th and 56th, respectfully. There was a large gap between their #2 and #3 runners with Maegen Derfelt (148th), Mady Gepford (153rd), and Danielle Prince (180th) rounding out their top five. Despite the less than ideal recent result, the Lions should still be favored to take home the win this weekend.
Central Missouri placed 3rd at the Southwest Baptist University XC Invite and had their best performance at the Chile Pepper XC Festival where they placed 3rd in the "B" race. Cynthia Togorn won the race at Chile Pepper and has led her squad throughout the entire season. Not too far behind was Risper Mengich in 4th and Mariah Elmore in 11th. Makenzie Stucker and Kenzie Bergman are the last of the consistent scorers for the Jennies. If Central Missouri has an ideal race, they could come out in front of Missouri Southern, especially if Kuykendall is still out for the Lions.
Pittsburg State should easily be in the top three at the MIAA Championships this weekend. The Gorillas were 3rd at the UCO Land Run, then 5th at the Southern Stampede, and then 4th at the Rim Rock Collegiate Classic.
At the Southern Stampede Invite, Piper Misse led the way with a very respectable 8th place finish and was followed closely by Cassidy Westhoff in 10th. This duo helps Pittsburg State tremendously in their team scoring.
After a short gap, we saw Hannah Honeyman in 40th, Karli Blattner in 67th, and Halle Helfrich in 69th. Their top five have been pretty consistent this season and should have some confidence heading into the weekend.
The Nebraska-Kearney Lopers started their season off with a 4th place finish at the Augustana Twilight Meet and were 21st at the Lewis Conference Crossover. Destiny Reinke had an impressive 19th place finish in the highly competition race at Lewis. Following Reinke was a duo consisting of Maddie Bach and Zoe Ritzs who finished in 85th and 89th, respectfully.
The gap between their #3 and #4 runners is gigantic and this hurts the Lopers score tremendously. At Lewis their next runner was Sinclare Fiala in 199th, followed by Kennedy Krejdl in 226th. Despite the gap, the team has done pretty well and should be in the top five this weekend.
Two other teams to watch are the Fort Hays State Tigers and Washburn Ichabods.
On the individual side of things, the front-runners from these four teams will be the main discussion. Cynthia Togorn should be able to bring home the individual win for Central Missouri. Her teammate Risper Mengich should also join her at the front pack.
Destiny Reinke of Nebraska- Kearney could battle with Togorn near the top portion of the pack and shouldn't be counted out in terms of a sleeper pick for the title. Her race at Lewis was very encouraging.
Missouri Southern has a trio consisting of Ashlee Kuykendall, Kelie Henderson, and Julianna Determan who are all capable of mixing it up with the top group as well.
Pittsburg State has front-runners Piper Misse and Cassidy Westhoff who should finish in the top 10 based on their impressive performances throughout the season. Brooke Navarro and Abigail Stewart of Fort Hays St. could be up there as well. Their best performances were at the FHSU Tiger Open where Navarro placed 8th while Stewart was a few spots back in 12th.
The race for the individual title could go a lot of different ways, but I would place my bets on Cynthia Togorn. She has more experience and has been consistently successful throughout the season. We will see if she can keep the same momentum on Saturday.
1. Missouri Southern Lions
2. Central Missouri Jennies
3. Pittsburg State Gorillas
1. Cynthia Togorn (Central Missouri)
2. Destiny Reinke (Nebraska- Kearney)
3. Ashlee Kuykendall (Missouri Southern)
4. Piper Misse (Pittsburg State)
5. Risper Mengich (Central Missouri)
6. Cassidy Westhoff (Pittsburg State)
7. Kelie Henderson (Missouri Southern)
8. Julianna Determan (Missouri Southern)
9. Brooke Navarro (Fort Hays State)
10. Abigail Stewart (Fort Hays State)