Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern men's and women's cross country teams will play host to one of the largest cross country meets in the country tomorrow when the 25th annual First to the Finish Southern Stampede is run on the MSSU Cross Country Course.
Each year, more than 2,000 runners traverse the course on the campus of Missouri Southern. There will be two different collegiate races in each gender, as well as both varsity and junior varsity races for each gender in the high school events. Altogether, eight different races, ranging from the men's 8k and women's 5k, to the high school 5k events will be run on Saturday.
Highlighting the men's race will be two top six ranked Division I schools as number five Arkansas and number six Tulsa will both bring full squads to Joplin. The Lions are ranked seventh in Division II and welcome in 19th ranked Southwest Baptist, as well as NAIA No. 23 Saint Mary (Kansas).
In the women's collegiate race, the Lions will welcome Division I No. 10 Arkansas, while 23rd ranked Southwest Baptist is the lone Division II ranked women's squad racing.
Around 100 schools between the collegiate and high school events will be racing with the college/juco 5k kicking things off at 8 am. The university women's open will be at 8:30 am, while the colelge juco men's race starting at 9 am. The men's university race is slated for 9:45 am., while the high school races begin at 10:30 am.
The Southern men come into the event ranked second in the Central Region and seventh nationally, while the women are ranked fourth in the region. Southern and Arkansas both competed against each other two weeks ago in Fayetteville in the opener for each school.