By Mark Janssen
Five Big 12 Conference women's cross country teams are ranked among the Top 27 teams in the country with K-State entering the weekend with hopes of beating one of them. Any one of them will do.
"If we can do that and finish fifth in the Big 12, that's something the program hasn't done in the last decade," said K-State cross country coach Mike Smith in regards to Saturday's Big 12 Championships in Stillwater, Okla. "Colorado, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Texas are all nationally ranked, but we're better than we have been. If one of those teams slips, and we run well, then something special can happen."
Rounding out the K-State team in the 6K race will be Laura Lee Baird, Alyssa Bellinder, Emilee Morris, Sarah Swenson, Boglarka Bozzay, Meghan Heuer and Avery Clifton.
In the men's 8K race, Smith is hoping to just out-leg a few of the other 11 entered teams.
"Our hope is to be competitive, but with the understanding that we're a developmental team," said Smith. "We're competing against teams that will be far more competitive, but we're basically trying to do what we do with Kansas kids who are walk-ons."
Smith pointed to junior Armando Del Valle as a candidate for a top-40 finish. Rounding out the K-State field will be Mitch Loring, Adam Porter, Lane Porter, Andrew Stevens, Jacob Davies, Jack Sachse, Kyle Hanson and Phillip Banaowetz.
SMART RUNNERS: The Big 12 Conference announced its Academic team for 2010 with 11 Wildcat runners decorated with honors.
On the men's team, Jacob Davies, Kyle Hanson, Sam James, Mitch Loring and Jack Sachse were first-team honorees, while Lane Porter was a second-team selection.
From the women's team, Laura Lee Baird, Boglarka Bozzay, Sydney Messick, Emilee Morris and Alyssa Bellinder were named to the first team.
Sachse, Loring and Bellinder have maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the last two semesters.
HOMECOMING WINNERS: At last Sunday's "Homecoming 5K" race, a pair of former Wildcat greats took top honors. Olympian Christian Smith won the men's division and Amy Mortimer was champion of the women's race.