Ryan Riddle is officially following in his father’s footsteps.
A standout distance runner from Webb City, Riddle has transferred from the University of Tulsa to Missouri Southern, where he’ll join the Lions cross country and track and field programs.
“I just wanted to be closer to home, so I’m glad to be back where I'm from and I’m excited to get going,” Riddle said of his decision.
“We’re super excited to have Ryan join our program,” Lions cross country coach Jamie Burnham said. “It’s awesome that he decided to come home. I think he’ll make a huge impact on our team. He’s a very talented young man. As long as I don’t mess it up, he should do some great things.”
Moving from NCAA Division I to Division II, Riddle will be eligible to compete for the Lions right away this fall.
Ryan’s father Jason Riddle was Missouri Southern’s first All-American in men’s cross country.
“It’s pretty cool to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” Riddle said of his father, who also captured an MIAA title in 1991. “He was an All-American, so I have big shoes to fill. But I’m looking forward to it and I know he is, too.”
“Jason was running here when I started here, so it’s pretty neat,” Burnham added.
Riddle became one of the state’s top distance runners during his stellar prep career at Webb City.
During his senior year of cross country, Riddle took second at the Class 4 state meet, recorded a school-record time of 15 minutes, 13 seconds at the sectional event and also captured district and conference championships. Riddle was also the conference and district champ in cross country as a junior.
In track and field, Riddle won three state championships, four sectional titles, six district championship and nine conference championships.
As a senior, Riddle recorded the eighth-fastest time in state history in the 3200 (8:56), becoming just the ninth high school runner from Missouri to break 9 minutes. In a stellar finale to his prep career, Riddle won both the 3200 and 1600 at the state meet and finished second in the 800.
Riddle gained big meet experience as a true freshman at Tulsa last fall. Riddle was Tulsa’s second finisher at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Madison, Wisconsin, as he toured the 10K course in 31:15 to finish 168th. Riddle finished 26th overall at the Midwest Regional with a time of 31:39. Riddle was also a member of the Golden Hurricane track and field team last spring.
“It was cool to meet and run with guys from all over the world at Tulsa,” Riddle said. “I was able to meet and work out with Chris O’Hare, a former Olympian. He’s a role model for me. I enjoyed the running side of it there.”
Riddle is joining a lineup at MSSU that has enjoyed quite a bit of recent success.
Missouri Southern’s men finished 11th at the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships last December, and all of those athletes who competed are back on the roster this fall, including sophomore Gidieon Kimutai, who crossed the line fourth in 32:11. Michael Shanahan, Jarod Ozee, Kevin Koester, Cody Berry, Josh Webb and Nickson Kiptoo also competed at the national meet last year for the Lions, who captured MIAA and Central Region team championships in 2018.
“They returned everybody and I know everybody here wants to work hard,” Riddle said. “It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait for the meets to start. I just want to help out the team as best as I can.”
Burnham noted his squad will have its goals set high.
“It could be something really special for the program and for the school,” said Burnham, last year’s MIAA and Central Region Coach of the Year. “We’ve got four seniors (Berry, Kiptoo, Shanahan, Webb) who have been a major part of this program, and it’s just great to add Ryan to the group of guys we have coming back.”
The Lions begin the season on Sept. 7 at Southwest Baptist and then host the Southern Stampede on Sept. 21.