Cross Country Begins Season at Gold Classic

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will open the 2008 season in Augusta, Kan., at the 60th Annual J.K. Gold Classic on Saturday, Sept. 6. The competition is hosted by Wichita State and will be run at the R.A.F.T. Golf Course. The gun will go off for the women’s 4K race at 9:00 a.m., followed by the men’s 6K race at 9:45 a.m.

With the team’s training being a little less than a month old, head coach Michael Smith’s runners will look to use the Classic as a competition to get the feel of racing back after the long off-season. Both the men’s and women’s teams return nine runners with two letterwinners on each team.

“We will use this race primarily to get used to racing again,” said Smith. “The competitions in the earlier part of the season are mainly for that reason. We really won’t start measuring each individual runner until we work our way into the last three races of the season. We choose to run at the Wichita race because it is nice and close to home as far as a first meet is concerned and it fits into the schedule so that we will have a competition every two weeks, which is good for our runners.”

The women look to deliver a strong and experienced team with the women’s top four runners scheduled to run, as opposed to last year’s meet where the top four runners were out due to injury. Sophomore Beverly Ramos and senior Liliani Mendez, the Wildcats’ top runners from last year, did not compete in this meet last season but will look to finish on the podium this year coming off successful seasons in 2007. The women’s third runner will be a competition between senior Emily Dittemore and freshman Emily Morris.

“I’m looking for Beverly (Ramos) to be successful. I think this race will just be a beginning for her and the success that she will have this season. I’ve been impressed with Emily (Morris). She continues to progress from this summer she trained hard this past summer and as a freshman she has put herself in a position to where she will be ready to compete on Saturday.”

The men, like the women’s team, will have some runners that will not be ready for competition. Coach Smith feels that some young runners that have come in are not quite ready for the collegiate distance and they will use this race to stay home and train. Senior Colin Swaney, who came on strong at the end of last season, will not compete but should be ready for the next meet in Nebraska.

With the absence of Swaney, the men’s team will be looking for someone to step up to fill out the team. K-State will send seniors Alex Umberger and Danny Schneider to lead the pack in the meet Saturday, with freshman Kevin Edwards and sophomore Taylor Coate rounding out the top four. Umberger finished third in the meet last year and was the Wildcats’ top runner in all of the events for 2007, including a 43rd place finish at the Big 12 Championships.

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

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