Cross Country Opens with J.K. Gold Classic

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will open the 2009 season at the 60th Annual J.K. Gold Classic on Saturday in Augusta, Kan. The competition is hosted by Wichita State and will be run at the R.A.F.T. Golf Course. The starting gun will go off for the women’s 4K race at 9 a.m., followed by the men’s 6K race at 9:45 a.m.

Head coach Michael Smith hopes to use the Classic as a competition to get the runners back into the groove of racing after a long off-season.

“This first meet is just a rust breaker. It is not the championship distance. It is a shorter race and our purpose is just to get started,” said Smith. “We chose something that is close so we do not have to travel very far. And the course is forgiving. Where we are going in Wichita is not very hilly. We chose it because we can evaluate our personnel and we are not too beat up at the end.”

With five returning runners scheduled to run, the women look to start off the season strong with veteran leadership and experience. Junior Sydney Messick did not compete in this meet last year, but after a strong finish in the late half of last season, she hopes to continue with the same success. Senior Megan-Anne Perrin and sophomore Emily Morris, the only returning runners who raced in this meet in 2008, are also scheduled to run for the Wildcats at the Classic. Rounding out the women’s roster for Saturday’s meet will be junior Alyssa Bellinder, sophomore Boglarka Bozzay, freshman Martina Tresch and freshman Laura Lee Baird. Senior leader Beverly Ramos, who finished the NCAA meet 55th out of 252 Division I runners last season, will not compete but should be ready for the next meet in Missouri.

“Sydney Messick is ready to make a huge leap. She is at a level where she is in better shape now than she was when she got 32nd at the Big 12 meet,” said Smith. “I would hope that she can perform at a level higher than last year, which makes us better. Also, Martina is going to add a great deal of depth and experience.”

With seven newcomers to the men’s squad this season, they are hoping to build a foundation of youth and talent that will lead to long-term success. Senior Tyler Fennema, junior Jack Sachse and sophomore Kevin Edwards, three returning runners for the Wildcats who are scheduled to compete, hope to step up and lead the men in Wichita. The men’s squad will also count on three true-freshmen, Kyle Hanson, Mitch Loring and Travis Boyett for depth on Saturday. Filling up the final spot for the men will be sophomore Armando Del Valle.

Other teams to compete at the J.K. Gold Classic are Wichita State and Cloud County.

Results from the meet will be posted at www.k-statesports.com as soon as they come available.