The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 14, 2013

Lamar runner signs with Missouri Southern

LAMAR, Mo. — Drew Buckner came to Missouri Southern last fall to watch the NCAA Division II cross country championships.

“That was great,” Buckner said. “The whole atmosphere … I’d like to experience that some day.”

Buckner, a senior at Lamar High School, signed a letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to run cross country and track at Missouri Southern. He signed the letter in the high school library sitting between his parents, Steve and Marlys Buckner, and in front of classmates.

“I had some interest from a couple of private schools before the (cross country) season,” he said. “Then as the season progressed, I started looking to some other places. I talked to Southwest Baptist and Pittsburg State a little bit. I went on visits to Pitt State and Missouri Valley and Central Methodist. My last one was actually Missouri Southern. I saved the best for last.

“The runners on the team were great. I liked the atmosphere. I liked the campus, and, of course, the academic aspect of it is important, too. I’m going to be majoring in biology, and they have a great biology department. The combination of all that sold me.”

Buckner plans to run the 4x800 relay, 800 meters, 1,600 and occasionally the 3,200 for the Tigers this spring. Last season Buckner ran the anchor leg on the Tigers’ 4x800 relay team that placed fourth in the Class 2 state meet.

Buckner’s formula for success?

“His work ethic, his desire to win,” said Rod Baldridge, Lamar’s track and cross country coach. “He is one of the most competitive runners I’ve ever had.”

Lamar placed second in the team standings, one point behind Cleveland NJROTC. That provided plenty of motivation for the cross country team, which won the state crown last November by a 39-point margin.

“It was a long season, but it was well worth it,” said Buckner, who placed 20th in the individual standings. “Us not winning track by a point kind of dug into all of us cross country guys. It took us like five days … we didn’t take much of a break. We just got out there running again. A lot of us got over 300, 400 (miles). I think I was around 600 miles or so (during the summer). We definitely put in the most work we’ve ever put in before, and when it got time for meets, it started paying off.

“We didn’t lose a meet all year except for the Chili Pepper (in Fayetteville, Ark.), which there was no way we were going to win that. It was just a great season. It’s always fun to win. It go to the day (of the state championship race), we knew what we were capable of and we took care of business.”

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