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K-State Distance Runners Maturing

By Mark Janssen
 
 
Mike Smith knows his cross country programs are battling with a short stick when it comes to scholarships specified for the distance runners, but he is encouraged by the improvement his runners have made over last year.
 
"In cross country, you're measured by one meet, which is the Big 12," said Smith of the event slated for Stillwater, Okla., on Oct. 30, which is also where the Wildcats will run on Saturday at the Cowboy Jamboree. "By the end of the year, we want to run to the level we have in past years, if not a place or two higher."
 
Smith estimates that less than two scholarships out of the total track and field allotment of 12.6 are used with its men's program, and slightly more than that with the women where 18 scholarships are allowed by the NCAA for the three combined sports (cross country, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field).
 
"With it being a financial decision on what's best for the total program, our men's program is largely walk-ons," said Smith of his 12-man roster that includes nine Kansans. "We try to survive with local kids, with most of those being walk-ons, while teams like Oklahoma State have 10 to 12 scholarships devoted to cross country."
 
On the men's side, Smith says Oklahoma State, Colorado, Iowa State and Oklahoma put a heavy emphasis on cross country, while Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas A&M offer moderate support. Baylor, Texas Tech, Nebraska and K-State put their focus on their indoor and outdoor teams.
 
"What we're trying to do is be the best among our group of four," said Smith. "With the guys we're trotting out there, it's just not a level playing field. There's just no way to beat some of those people."
 
But, Smith does hope to be better this year in that, "A year ago, we were trotting out developmental freshmen. They're not men now, but they are closer to being men than boys. They train better and their work-ethic has improved."
 
On the women's side, K-State has been more competitive with sixth-place cross country finishes in each of the last two years.
 
This year, Smith says, "We have people in place to be that competitive again, and if we can get Martina (Tresch, hamstring injury) back, maybe we can be better. She was 30th (in the Big 12) last year, but the injury has hurt her training. She will be running with us this weekend."
 
K-State's 10-woman team includes five Kansans, two from the neighboring states of Colorado and Iowa, one from Illinois and two international students who come from Hungary and Switzerland.
 
In both men's and women's cross country, Smith says, "You occasionally get a really good kid from Kansas, but with a small population base and six high school classifications, it's difficult to get much competition. When you do get a pretty good kid, it takes time because he's had a lack of true distance training and has a really low work load capacity."
 
EARLY SUCCESS: K-State opened its season on Sept. 4, by sweeping Bradley and Wichita State in mini-dual meets on both the men's and women's side.
 
In the women's run, Sydney Messick placed second, Boglarka Bozzay third and Avery Clifton fourth, while Laura Lee Baird and Emily Morris were ninth and 10th, respectively.
 
Top male runners were Mitch Loring in third, Adam Porter in sixth and Kyle Hanson in 10th.
 
 
K-State Cross Country Roster
 
K-State Cross Country Schedule
 
 
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.