SE: Wedekind Displays Team-First Mentality

By Kelly McHugh-Stewart

Morgan Wedekind may be the frontrunner for the K-State women’s cross country team this season, but right now, she’s focused on more than just herself.

The junior from Wichita, Kansas, has a team-first mentality and is eager to continue working hard alongside her teammates as the season progresses.

“First of all, I really want to do well as a team,” said Wedekind when asked about her goals for the remainder of the 2015 season. “Our team has a lot of potential. We’re starting to see a top five coming together, but we’re also very inexperienced and young, so I would just be thrilled if everybody on the team could come together and do their best to reach their potential. If everybody does their part, I think we’ll have a good team. That’s my main goal.”

Coming off of a solid performance at the 2015 Bob Timmons Classic in Lawrence, Kansas, the Cats’ next event is the Cowboys Jamboree in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Taking place at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course, the meet begins tomorrow morning at 9:15 a.m., with the women’s 6k followed by the men’s 8k starting at 9:45 a.m.

“Overall, I feel like our team has been doing well at practice,” explained Wedekind. “We’ve had a lot of really good days, so I’m feeling good going into this weekend. I feel like we’re going to have some pretty solid performances.”

As for Wedekind, she entered this fall coming off of back-to-back successful years of running for the Wildcats. As a sophomore in 2014, she placed in the top 15 in three races, including a first-place finish at last year’s JK Gold Classic Dual – her first career win – and earned All-Midwest Region team honors. As a freshman, Wedekind ran in all six races and earned two top-10 finishes.

“Since last year, my mileage has increased by quite a bit, and I feel like the experience of racing for two years now at this level has really made me a better racer,” explained Wedekind. “Also, I feel like we have a better base going into this season, and that gives me a lot of confidence because we have more to work with.”

In her first and only race so far this season at the Bob Timmons Dual Classic, Wedekind placed second overall with a time of 18:25.1. Her second-place finish was the best finish of the Wildcats’ six runners.

“She ran well at KU but she was not very happy with what the stopwatch read,” head coach Ryun Godfrey said. ”She thought she ws going to be a little bit faster. But it was the first race, you are just working the cobwebs out. I am hoping for a time that reflects the amount of work she has put in.”

This weekend’s race at Oklahoma State won’t be the Wildcats’ only trip to Stilwater. K-State will return to OSU for the Big 12 Championship races on October 31.

Wedekind said this weekend’s competition will provide a good opportunity for her team leading into the conference championship race.

“I’m glad we’re going to OSU this weekend because the Big 12 Championship is there later this season, and we’re going to see a couple of Big 12 teams too,” Wedekind said. “I’m excited to see what OSU is like. I hear it’s pretty hilly; I like that though, so I’m excited. We run hills every Saturday, so I feel like we’ll be prepared. We’re really excited to race and compete for the school. We’re going to go out and run our best.”
 
Godfrey believes Wedekind is in a good place to run her best for the remainder of the season.

“I think with experience you become mentally stronger,” Godfrey said. ”I think she is a believer that she is a major factor in the Big 12, where as a sophomore she was hoping she was. Now she believes that she is.”

Sports Extra, extra:
A 60-MILE WEEK
K-State cross country practices are no joke.

Chances are, if you’ve driven around Manhattan, you’ve seen the team out running a time or two.

“We run about 40 to 60 (miles per week),” explained Wedekind. “This week we kind of had a lower mileage week because of the Cowboy Jamboree, but I want to say last week we were at about 60 miles.”

The week begins for the Wildcats with two practices on Mondays – about 50 minutes of running in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening with weights – then Tuesdays and Thursdays Wedekind said are the team’s “harder days,” where the Cats do “threshold runs, intervals and mile repeats.” The team has more running and workouts on Wednesdays and Fridays, before, on Saturdays, tackling long distance.  

“We drive out to the dirt roads and get in a good 90 minutes of running,” Wedekind said about the team’s non-competition Saturday routine. “Usually, we get about 13 and a half miles in. It just depends on the person, but anywhere from 12 to about 14 miles, that’s where majority of our team is at.”

Though the Wildcats lace their running shoes well before the sun rises each day, the early mornings spent together are well worth it.

“I think we have really good chemistry as a whole. We’re supportive of each other, so I enjoy going to practice with my teammates every single day,” said Wedekind. “Going to practice at six in the morning isn’t always an easy thing to do, but they make it so much fun. It’s been really helpful because we have a positive atmosphere from everyone on the team.”