Wildcats Gear up for Pre-National Invitational

Oct. 16, 2013

K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The K-State cross country team continues action this Saturday with the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. Last season, the Wildcat men finished ninth in the 8K and the women finished seventh in the 6K. The women will race first at 11:40 a.m., followed by the men at 12:15 p.m. 

Head coach Michael Smith is anxious to see how well his team will compete in a meet of this caliber.

"The Pre-National Invitational was originally set up to be an opportunity for teams to run on the NCAA course prior to the November championships," Smith said. "It has since become the largest meet of the year and also one of the most competitive meets of the year.  Many teams that have a good individual or have hopes of qualifying for the NCAA meet intend to compete this weekend in Terre Haute."

The Wildcats will compete against a variety of nationally ranked Division I schools, such as #2 Florida State, #5 Georgetown, #12 Colorado on the women's side and #1 Oklahoma State, #2 Colorado, #4 Oregon on the men's side. There will be a total of 86 teams on the women's side and 75 teams on the men's side.

For Smith, he knows how important this meet is to figuring out how well his team competes against NCAA Championship-quality opponents.  

"This meet should tell us a lot about the nature of our team," Smith said. "We have had some good individual performances in competition and some outstanding practices with great intensity, but we have not put together a good team race so far. That is the next step for this group.  If we put together the kind of race that I know we can, we will be very competitive this weekend." 

Historically the meet has given the Wildcats some trouble with the highest individual finisher finishing sixth in Beverly Ramos in 2009 and the highest team finish is 14th also in 2009. 

Smith hopes that his top-two runners Laura Galvan and Martina Tresch can better those performances.

"We have a great one-two punch with Galvan and Tresch," Smith said. "They will penetrate in this race and score low points for us.  Galvan was 45th last year at the NCAA meet.   Tresch was 47th at the NCAA meet in 2011 and is a two-time All-American on the track and a Big 12 steeplechase champion. Those two women are formidable and they are hungry."

With the Wildcats at full strength for the second meet in a row, Smith would like to see his upper classmen go out and lead the team.

"I expect Ryan Hershner to lead us again and I think we will get a boost from Fernando Roman as he continues to improve after missing the summer with an injury,' Smith said. "We have been relying on our freshmen again to run in our top 5, so consistency is important. We hope to be competitive at the Big 12 Championships in two weeks."

Smith hopes that the men will build off of their strong third place performance at the Rim Rock Invitational.

"The guys are running with more confidence now in training so I expect that to transfer to their races," Smith said. "They are learning not to set limits on themselves and it has been fun to watch them take on new challenges in practice."

Following Saturday's race, the Wildcats take a week off before heading to Waco, Texas, for the Big 12 Championships on Nov. 2. Last season the men and women finished eighth and sixth in the Big 12, respectively.