Friends unite in organizing new running club

From left, Stephon Abron and Tyler Oetting pose for a photo during this year's color run during family weekend. (Photo submitted by Stephon Abron/ For the Muleskinner)

Two best friends at the University of Central Missouri recently created a student organization dedicated to running.

Stephon Abron and Tyler Oetting started the UCM Running Club this semester to give students at any athletic level the opportunity to run as a collegiate athlete without the demands of mandatory practices.

“I am really excited for this club, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be right by my side that is also my best friend,” Abron said. “We both would love for anyone at any level to come out because the bigger our team is, the more we can conquer.”

The organization’s main focus is to create a friendly and judgment-free atmosphere. Practices are flexible and the team works around everyone’s schedule.

Abron, the club president, said he found his passion for running at St. Charles High School when he joined the track team his sophomore year. Abron said his greatest accomplishment that season was breaking a five-minute mile and qualifying for the 2015 AAU Junior Olympics.

After high school graduation, he said he continued breaking records at Hannibal LaGrange University his freshman year. Abron transferred to UCM this fall to major in aviation.

Oetting, vice president of the club, said he also found his passion for running at St. Charles West, the rival school of St. Charles High School. Oetting said he hit his prime in running during his senior year when he placed at districts and qualified for the state championships in cross country.

Although they competed as rivals in high school, their friendship developed outside of sports.

“I initially met Stephon through cross country because our schools ran against each other frequently,” Oetting said. “We never talked until I got a job at the local pool in St. Charles. Stephon and I have worked there together for the past two years, and that’s where our friendship started.”

The UCM Running Club has accumulated 23 members and the organizers hope that more students will join. Fall practices have already started, and the club’s first race will be the Snowbird Invitational at Illinois College, where the runners will compete against six colleges. The race is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2019.

For more information, send emails to Abron at swa01430@ucmo.edu or Oetting at two58830@ucmo.edu.

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