Wildcats Primed for Big 12 Championships in Lubbock

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State cross country teams will compete in the Big 12 Cross Country Championships on Friday, October 26, at Rawls Golf Course in Lubbock, Texas. The championships will begin with the men’s 8,000-meter race at 10 a.m., followed by the women’s 6,000-meter run at 11 a.m.

The Wildcats are coming of a marquee event at the pre-NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., where six of the seven women’s runners ran their career-best 6,000-meter races and all six harriers for the men recorded career-best 8,000-meter times.

Last season both the men’s and the women’s teams placed 12th at the Big 12 Championship meet in Lawrence, Kan. Liliani Mendez led the women a year ago by finishing 28th and Alex Umberger led the men with a 63rd-place finish. This season head coach Michael Smith expects improved performances from both teams.

Beverly Ramos and Liliani Mendez have been consistent leaders for the women’s team this season as they are poised to compete with the best runners in the Big 12.

“They have been very consistent in races and very consistent in practice. We know that they are going to be around the top-15 on Friday. The best chance for us to finish high in the conference meet is going to come from Emily Dittemore. If she does what she has been doing all season, it will give us a pretty big chance for us to move up the ladder.”

The men’s team has taken strides since the beginning of the season under leadership of Umberger and Danny Schneider. Junior Colin Swaney will be competing in his second meet of the season due to a minor injury.

“The men’s team has continued to get better as individuals and as a group throughout the year and that’s really all I can ask for,” Smith said. “I’m encouraging them to run the same race-plan that they have been running all season and if they do that our top-three runners will perform well.”

Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas State and Colorado are the only two schools that have earned a Big 12 title in cross country. The Colorado men have won every title, while the women have won 10 of the 11 championships, with Kansas State claiming their crown in 1998.

“The more the years go by and the more titles that Colorado racks up, the more impressive it becomes that we took one from them,” Smith said. “A lot of schools are trying and they are unable to do it. It is something that is tremendously difficult to do because of the way scholarships are distributed between track and field and cross country.”

The top men’s and women’s teams are crowned league champions and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. The top 15 individuals in each race earn All-Big 12 honors. The at-large teams for the NCAA Championships will be announced on Nov. 11, prior to the Midwest Region Championships on Nov. 10.

Results from the Big 12 Championships will be posted at www.kstatesports.com as they become available. For more information on the meet, visit www.big12sports.com.