Joplin, Mo. -- Missouri Southern men's track and field coach Tom Rutledge has announced the signings of six individuals for the 2013-14 track season.
All six athletes come from the state of Missouri and four hail from local southwest Missouri high schools.
Drew Buckner is a 5-9 distance runner that comes to Southern from Lamar High School, in Lamar, Mo. Buckner was a four-year letterwinner on the cross country team at Lamar for coach Rodney Baldridge. This past season, he helped the Tigers to the Missouri Class 2 state championship and was an All-State selection finishing 20th at the meet. He helped the Tigers to a district and sectional championship, as well. He was a three time All-Conference and All-District Pick in cross country, while being named All-Conference All- District and All-State in track and field.
Also a three-year starter on the basketball court for the Tigers, he helped lead the basketball team to a district championship. The school record holder in the 5k, Drew is the son of Steve (an MSSU grad) and Marlys Buckner. He plans to major in biology at Southern.
Bryan Burns is a 6-1 thrower that comes to Southern from Carthage High School. This past year, Burns was the state champion in the discus as a junior. He holds the school record in the event at 179-1 and also in the power clean at 345 pounds.
A four-year letterwinner in track and field, he was also a two-year starter on the football team. The son of Harley and Dorena Burns, Bryan plans to major in engineering at Southern.
Mike Spicer is a 6-1 jumper that comes to Southern from Jasper High School. A three year letter-winner on both the track and field teams, as well as the basketball team, Spicer holds the record at JHS in the high jump with a height of 6-8.
Spicer was his basketball team's MVP for two seasons, as well as the track MVP, and he was his team's high point scorer as a junior. The son of John Spicer, Mike plans to major in computer information systems at Southern.
Darrell Burns is a 6-3 jumper that comes to Southern from Wheaton High School. He was an All-State selection as a junior when he won the Missouri State Championship in the high jump with a height of 6-9.
An All-State selection in 2011, as well, Burns placed sixth as a sophomore in the event. The WHS record holder in the high jump, Burns helped the Bulldogs to a second place team finish at the state meet in 2011 and a third place finish this past season. He is the son of Craig and Angela Burns and is undecided on his future major at Southern.
Tyler Rush is a 5-11 distance runner and comes to Southern from Osage County High School in Linn, Mo. A four-time All-Conference and All-District selection, as well as a three-time All-State pick in cross country, Rush was a three-time All-Conference, All-District and All-State selection in track and field.
He holds the school record in the 5k with a time of 16:09 and helped his cross country team to a district championship each season, as well as a fourth-place finish in 2009, second place in 2010, state championship in 2011 and a second-place finish in 2012 at the state meets. The son of William and Michelle rush, Tyler is undecided on his future major at Southern.
Drake Smelser is a 6-2 distance runner that comes to Southern from Herculaneum High School in Herculaneum, Mo. A four-year letterwinner in both track and field and cross country, Smelser ran for coaches Kyle Davis (MSSU Alum), and David Cook.
In four years at HHS, Smelser has heeled the Blackcats to two state championships (2010-11) and a pair of runner up finishes (2009, 12), while helping the track and field team to a fourth-place finish this past year. A two-time All-State selection, Smelser is the son of Douglas and Robyn Smelser and plans to major in biology at Southern.