By Mark Janssen
Kansas State cross country coach Mike Smith hopes Saturday will be that given day.
That one day where every runner has that maximum effort. If that happens, Smith says, "I think we have an outside chance of making the NCAA's."
"We're not a top-two team, and it will probably take a top-four finish to advance," said Smith. "I do think we're a top-six team, which gives us that outside chance. We're a top 30 to 40 team, and they take 31 teams to nationals. We're that close."
If not as a team, Smith points to Sydney Messick and Martina Tresch as candidates to earn individual positions at NCAA's, which go to the top four runners not on advancing teams.
"That would take a top 10 to 12 finish, and both appear to be right there," said Smith of his two leading runners from the Big 12 Championships when they led K-State to a sixth-place team finish.
At the Big 12 meet, KSU's leaders were Messick (20:49.85), Tresch (21:07.68), Boglarka Bozzay (21:26.66), Avery Clifton (21:49.22) and Meghan Heuer (22:03.39) in the top five, with the team rounded out by Laura Lee Baird and Alyssa Bellinder.
"If our two freshmen (Heuer and Clifton) can move up, we could be in competition for fourth," said Smith.
For the men, Phillip Banowetz, Armando Del Valle, Adam Porter, Kyle Hanson, Lane Porter, Andrew Stevens and Jack Sachse will represent the men's team.
"As funny as it sounds, our men will have a better showing this weekend because it's not the Big 12," said Smith. "We'll be competitive against some of the teams from the Missouri Valley, Horizon and some of the other mid-major conferences."
Saturday's Midwest Championships will be staged in Peoria, Ill., with the qualifiers going on to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 22.