Pre-Nationals Next Up for Cats

"It's a different format, and we're still waiting to see how it works," said Smith, who will have his team running today in Terre Haute, Ind., in the Pre-National Invitational. "But I do know this. We have people running faster than ever, and they're doing it easier and with a great attitude. We really feel good about where we are and the progression we've made." K-State will have only five race days this fall with today being the third. The Big 12 Championships in Stillwater, Okla., will follow on Oct. 30, and the NCAA Midwest Championships in Peoria, Ill., will take place on Nov. 13. For those that qualify, the NCAA Championships will be back in Terre Haute on Nov. 22. "We're just starting a two-week cycle, which our training has been pointed to," said Smith. "Racing can be such a drain on athletes emotionally as well as physically. But right now, we look good and they feel good, now if we can just keep them from getting sick." Today's competition will include 82 teams broken up into two races, which Smith says will include roughly 25 of the top 40 teams in the country in attendance. "Last year we finished 14th and the year before that it was 21st," Smith said of his women's team. "I'd sure like to see us close to being in the Top 10 this year. If we do that, that means we would have a shot to be in the top half of the Big 12 and the possibility of qualifying to be an NCAA team." K-State last ran on Sept. 25 at the Oklahoma State Jamboree in late September. For the women, Sydney Messick (21:14.2), Boglarka Bozzay (21:38.7), Martina Tresch (21:43.0) and Avery Clifton (22:02.5) finished second, seventh, eighth and 10th, respectively, to lead K-State to a second-place team finish. The fourth-place men's team was paced by Armando Del Valle in 24th (25:45.1) and Mitch Loring in 30th (25:56.7).