Men’s and women’s cross country will be the first Missouri Western sport to compete this fall. 

Their first meet is set for Oct. 16, with their regular season ending before football even plays their first game.

Like football, a handful of cross country teams in the MIAA decided that they still wanted a chance to compete this fall. Those teams, including Missouri Western, put their heads together to create a condensed fall schedule for their cross country athletes.

The Griffons will race in two regular season meets with an opportunity to qualify for a Division II national meet. Their opening meet on Oct. 16 will take place at the Indian Hills Invitational in Iowa. Their second and final regular season meet will take place on Oct. 30 at the Newman Team Invitational in Kansas.

If any Griffons qualify, there will be a third meet at the Division II National Invitational in Texas on Nov. 14. Head coach Cody Ingold believes the national meet will give his team something to aim for throughout the season.

“It gives us something to strive for,” Ingold said. “(It gives) our teams and our athletes an opportunity to try to make a national meet, where we’re not just going to go compete to compete. We’re not just doing it to do it.”

The season will be quick, seeing as it will start and finish within one month. Runner Andrew Wright said despite the quick turnaround, he still has a way to stay dialed in.

“It’s good, it’s exciting, but I’ve got to take each race by each race,” Wright said. “I’ve got to focus on one race at a time.”

Ingold said that this season is essentially made up of a few teams going rogue from the league. The MIAA voted last month on whether or not to allow fall sports a chance to compete, and it ended in a tie. That allowed for programs who wanted to competeincluding our football and cross country teamsa chance to come together.

“It’s awesome to give the student athletes the opportunity to compete while they’re here,” Ingold said. “They’re in school. Everyday, they’re following COVID protocol and we’re doing everything right. We’ve done everything right since we’ve got here. So, the opportunity for them to run, it’s awesome to have.”

Before the announcement, the cross country team was just practicing to prepare for indoor track season in January. Now, with meets in the near future, Ingold said there’s been a moral boost at practice.

“It’s made training a little bit easier,” Ingold said. “They have something to compete for. We were obviously getting ready for track season, but it just takes a little bit off the shoulders. They get to kind of relax a little bit and go run and race and show progress for training.”

The last time Missouri Western runners competed was in February, so athletes like Allison Goos are looking forward to racing again.

“I’m just super excited,” Goos said. “We’re all super pumped to be able to compete again and we’re ready and we’re motivated and we’re just excited to have this opportunity to do this because we didn’t think we were going to compete until January.”

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