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Tigers get season started with Alumni Relay



Hays Daily News

Even though they graduated, it doesn't mean they need to relinquish their crown.

At Saturday's Fort Hays State University alumni relay, the alumni cross country teams dominated the Tiger runners, winning the men's and women's races.

Jay Lindal, Aaron Davidson and Aaron Yoder won the men's race, while Jackie Jamison, Ashlee Orr and Kylene Kirmer finished first for the women.

The eight-kilometer relay was broken up into three sections: two two-mile legs and a one-mile leg.

It was set up in relay fashion, but teams were not required to carry a baton over the long distances and slapped hands instead.

This was the first year for the relay. In past years, it was a four-mile race and not a relay.

"It is a good way to ease into the season, and it is a good way to get more alumni back to compete," Tiger coach Jason McCullough said.

"I think it encourages people to call their friends to run on a team at the alumni run. That is the whole purpose of the alumni run, to get everyone together and support the Tigers."

Junior Hali Mobley, a transfer from Wichita State University, said she enjoyed the different racing environment.

"It makes it a lot more fun," Mobley said. "It is laid back but also competitive. I like that you are grouped up with your teammates, you get to do the relay thing and bond."

McCullough said he tried to split the teams evenly talent-wise with his collegiate runners, which gave the alumni a bit of an advantage. However, McCullough said the alumni runners still would have been very tough to defeat.

"I don't think anyone could have beaten Yoder, Davidson and Lindal today," McCullough said. "They are still pretty fit. They have just been gone for a year or two."

Lindal, all-league in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in 2008, ran the first leg for the championship team and finished his first mile in four minutes, 40 seconds -- much faster than even he expected.

"I was hoping to just break five minutes," Lindal said. "When I came across at 4:40, I was like 'holy cow.' "

Lindal said it was surprising, because he took a break and ran only 40 miles all summer. Lindal also ran the fastest two-mile leg, finishing in a time of 9:51.25 seconds.

The Tiger men's team's fastest runner was sophomore Tanner Christensen, but he trailed Lindal during the first leg, finishing in 10:00.86.

"(Christensen) is more of a long distance runner," Lindal said. "He is a great runner and very competitive mentally and very strong mentally. If it was a four-mile, I think he would have done better."

On the women's side, Jamison, a student assistant coach, led the first leg and ran the fastest two-mile split in 12:03.51, defeating one of the Tigers' top returners, senior Ali Mishler.

On the men's side, student assistant coach Elias Diaz and McCullough finished second in the men's division despite only having two runners. Diaz was forced to run the first and final legs.

The top Tiger performances came from a men's team composed of sophomore Jared Shillington, senior Gavin Moore and sophomore Kevin Sander and a women's team composed of junior Hali Mobley, junior Amie Algrim and sophomore Melissa Bartlett.

The Tiger men's team finished third, while the women finished second.

Both teams relied on their second leg to take over the lead while their anchors held their positions.

For Sander, it was special, because he out-kicked fellow sophomore middle-distance runner Tanner Bartholomew for third place.

"Tanner and I train day in and day out together," Sander said. "Having him behind me was about as big of a push as you could get, because I knew he could get me if he really wanted to. Being able to finish the race ahead of him was a big plus in my books."

Sport Date Opponent Score
2/18 SW Baptist L 66-53
12/1 Oklahoma - Panhandle L 66-60 (OT)