By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. —
Tom Rutledge remembers his first home meet as Missouri Southern’s track and field coach.
“It was probably 1990 or ‘91.” he said Thursday morning. “We had about 10 teams I think.”
Today Rutledge will coach the Lions in a home meet for the final time as a “twilight meet” will be held at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.
Rutledge has announced he will retire at the end of this season, concluding 24 years as the Lions’ track and cross country coach.
“It’s been 40 years really,” he said. “My first job was in February of 1974. I started at Gurdin Junior High in Arkansas. The coach left ... and they called me and paid me $200 or $300 for the whole semester. And I thought I was a rich man.”
Last weekend the Lions finished second in the men’s division and third in the women’s division of the MIAA Championships. But today, the emphasis shifts to individual accomplishments.
“The team has pretty much dispersed for the year,” Lions women’s coach Patty Vavra said. “The last day of finals is (Friday). The individuals who have no qualifying marks have left.”
Two Lion men have reached automatic qualifying marks for the national meet — Darion Boure in the triple jump and Michael Juergens in the high jump.
The national meet will have 20 entries in each individual event and 16 entries in each relay. The Lions currently have nine men’s entries and six women’s entries ranked in the top 20.
“We have a lot of people on the bubble,” Rutledge said. “We have some who are outside of the top 20 but are close to qualifying. And we have some who are in the top 20 but need a better mark to increase their chances of going to nationals.”
For example, Seth Hackney is 20th in the shot put and Taylor McClelland is 22nd in the triple jump.
“Jasmin Hughes needs to take off two-tenths to get in the 200 and about two-tenths in the 100 as well,” Vavra said.
The adjusted schedule for today’s meet has throwing events starting at 1:15 p.m., jumping events at 2 and running events at 4.
“It will be a quick meet,” Rutledge said. “We have 10, 12, 13 people in some events and in some events we have three. That’s how it goes at a qualifying meet.”