By Mark Janssen
Sydney Messick says, "Not in a million years would I think I would be in this position. No ... way."
But the K-State senior thought wrong.
"Honestly, out of high school, I never believed that I could run like this. To keep achieving things like I have is so gratifying," said Messick, a former prep champion in cross country, plus the mile and two-mile outdoor title winner from Topeka's Seaman High School.
Here's what Messick is talking about.
As a K-State freshman, she placed 69th in a time of 24 minutes, 8 seconds at the Big 12 Championships on the 12th-place Wildcat team.
As a sophomore, it was a 32nd place finish (22:12), as a junior a 14th place finish (21:59), and this year a 15th placing (20:49) for the sixth-place Wildcat team.
Out of high school, Messick set the school record in the 4K at 14:33. Today she goes through the 6K run at 13:30.
"Four years ago I was only hoping to be in the top seven on the team, or maybe top five," Messick said. "I remember coach (Mike Smith) saying that someday I could be up there with Beverly (Ramos), but I just said, 'Yeah, sure.' "
Messick's times aren't like those of Ramos, but she is K-State's lead runner, and unlike Ramos, she's leading her Wildcat team to the NCAAs for the first time since 2000.
"We knew we were a developing team, and nationals was on our radar going into the year, but we also knew it would be hard in a tough conference and a tough region," said Messick. "We've just continued to mature, and our freshmen have stepped up better than we thought they would. This is just incredible."
Joining Messick as K-State's scorers in the recent regional race were junior Boglarka Bozzay, sophomore Martina Tresch, plus freshmen Avery Clifton and Megan Heuer.
Tresch ran 11th in 20:24.81, Messick 15th in 20:33.88, Bozzay 37th in 21:09.74; Clifton 42nd and Heuer 49th.
"Everyone did awesome," Messick said. "We showed that we can compete nationally. Our freshmen amaze me. They got right in there and did more than their part."
Coach Mike Smith said of the accomplishment, "All year I felt like we were an NCAA caliber team. That was never really reflected in the rankings, but we knew that was what we were."
"On the bus ride back from the regional we watched a live Flotrack NCAA selection show and they had us as the last team in the meet," Smith said. "The moment Kansas State popped up on the screen it was bedlam on the bus. We were screaming and yelling so loud that I think we scared the bus driver."