Ready to Run: A Look at K-State Cross Country

The Wildcat women won the event last year, while the men's team took home second. This year, the teams plan on similar results, and after a long summer of training, they're ready to run.
On the women's team, the Wildcats will look to seniors Laura Galvan and Erika Schiller, junior Mary Frances Donnelly and sophomore Morgan Wedekind to carry their success from 2013 into the new season. Head coach Mike Smith said three freshmen - Maddie Nestor, Kayla Doll and Jenny McCarty - all proved they worked hard over the summer and could provide added depth to the group.
"We have three freshmen that are vying for that fifth spot," explained Smith. "One of those three could emerge as our fifth.  Mary Frances Donnelly and Erika Schiller are both pretty cemented in our top four, so this season we'll have four proven, veteran, hard-working, dependable women up front that could be dependable in the Big 12."
Describing his group of runners as "motivated and committed," Smith explained that the women's team has all the pieces it needs to be successful this year.
It has front runners in Galvan and Wedekind and depth in Schiller, Donnelly and this year's up-and-coming freshmen. 
"Practice is one thing, competition is another," said Smith. "I'm seeing what I need to see in practice, but now I need to see it in competition. Going into this meet, I hope what we see surface are the things that I see in training. I hope our front runners do what they're supposed to do and step up, and then that our young people step up and show us that they're willing to make the commitment in competition to be close to our top four. If that happens, we'll be pretty competitive."
Earning back-to-back USTFCCCA All-Midwest Regional team honors in 2012 and 2013, Galvan has been an anchor for the K-State Cross Country team throughout her Wildcat career. 
As a sophomore, Galvan competed in the NCAA Championships and placed 45th while breaking K-State's all-time 6K record with a time of 20:19.5. The following season, she placed sixth in the Big 12 and 16th at the Midwest Regional Championships. 
Now looking forward to her final season in purple, Galvan said she is excited for this weekend's meet and for her final year as a Wildcat. 
"I really look forward to enjoying competition with this team," said Galvan. "I am really excited. If we show how good we are, we can make it pretty far this year. I've been to the NCAA Championship by myself and it's nice just being there, but I'd love having more girls (at the NCAA meet). I feel like this team is pretty good. We have three new freshmen who are pretty good, so we'll see. 
"It's my last season, so I'm just going to enjoy it as much as I can."
On the men's side, while the team is filled with youth, Smith said two runners - sophomore brothers Brett and Jeff Bachman - will be called upon to pace the team. 
"The twins, they are in reasonable condition," said Smith. "They're fit, they trained well over the summer, and I would expect both of them to lead us or have one of them surface as the leader performance-wise."
Natives of St. Joseph, Missouri, the Bachman twins spent their summer side-by-side training together for the upcoming season. Brett explained having his brother there to train with only pushed him to make the most out of summer workouts and that the two are better prepared for the season to come because of it.
"I noticed that over the summer, if there were days when we couldn't run together, those were the days that I kind of slacked off," said Brett. "But running together, it keeps you committed and it keeps you honest... Jeff and I, we're able to finally get used to the workload that coach has for us, and I think we're finally getting in shape and getting in a place where we can compete well."
This year's men's team is made up of six sophomores and five freshmen with Fernando Roman as the team's only senior. 
"I'm just a sophomore and hopefully I'll be leading the way, so I feel like this season will just be a start to bigger and better things in seasons down the road," concluded Brett.
With a solid women's team ready to make an impact from the start and, as Smith explained, a "developmental" men's team, the possibilities are endless this season for the Wildcats. While the team can only simulate so much in training, Smith is now ready to get his runners in competition and see where they stand.
"We'll probably run almost everyone that is healthy at this weekend's meet just to see who is where on the depth chart," said Smith. "We have our own depth chart and we determine it through training, speculation and watching, but competition pretty much tells you what the numbers are and who really is where."
Following this weekend's meet, K-State will head to Iowa City, Iowa, for the Big Ten Preview on Sept. 20. For the team's full 2014 schedule, click here

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