Wildcats Prepared for Big 12 Championships

Ryan Hershner competes in the JK Gold Classic on September 1, 2012. Courtesy: Joseph Myers

Oct. 25, 2012

2012 Big 12 Cross Country Championships Central

MANHATTAN, Kan.--The Kansas State cross country teams are back in action when the Wildcats take on their rivals at the Big 12 Championships this weekend. Action is set to begin Saturday morning at the Jimmy Clay Golf Course in Austin, Texas. The women will run the 6K race at 10 a.m. and the men will follow at 11 a.m. with an 8K race.

At the Big 12 Championships last season, the K-State women finished ninth scoring 201 points led by junior Martina Tresch finished with a ninth-place finish as she clocked in at 17:08. It was the second fastest time recorded by a Wildcat ever at the Big 12 Championships. Iowa State won the women's title by scoring 68 points. Texas finished second with 83 points and Oklahoma State placed third by scoring 86 points.

Three ranked teams highlight the women's field with No. 2 Iowa State ranked highest among those teams. Texas is currently No. 14 in the USTCCCA Top 30 and Oklahoma State's women come in at No. 27.

K-State Head Coach Coach Michael Smith is looking forward to seeing how sophomores Laura Galvan and Erika Schiller along with freshman Mary Frances Donnelly perform at this year's Big 12 Championship.

"Galvan, Schiller and Donnelly are all in great shape," Smith said. "They are better now than they were two weeks ago and much better than they were a month ago. I'm hoping they shine at this meet."

Smith is also looking forward to seeing the impact of West Virginia and TCU in their first Big 12 Cross Country Championship.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how capable we are of competing against new conference opponents," Smith said. "The addition of West Virginia and TCU are new and we are not sure what they are capable of. Historically, West Virginia is very strong in distance meets. I do not know much about TCU, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the conference will look like down the road by seeing these teams now."

Last year, the Wildcat men placed eighth by scoring 255 points. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma were the top two teams as the Cowboys scored 30 points and the Sooners scored 43 points.

Featured in the men's meet are five ranked teams including three Top 10 teams, making this the strongest men's cross country conference in the nation. The ranked teams participating include the top team in the nation and the four-time defending Big 12 Champions, Oklahoma State, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Texas, No. 25 Iowa State and No. 30 Kansas. Although five out of the nine teams are ranked, Kenny Kithuka, a standout runner from Texas Tech, will try to earn his fifth first-place finish in five races this season.

Smith expects senior Kyle Hanson, junior Ryan Hershner and sophomore Fernando Roman to lead the Wildcat men at the Big 12 Championship.

"Those three guys have led us all year and I expect for them to do the same," Smith said.

The crowd and the atmosphere will be two things Smith is excited about for both the men's and women's teams.

"There is supposed to be a big crowd. It is right in Austin, and they will have a lot of support," Smith said. "It will be a great experience for our young runners to race a cross country meet of this caliber with that kind of atmosphere. It is going to be an exciting day to run and will be cool outside. At race time, the temperature will be 50 degrees with strong north winds. The environment will be what it should be for cross country, which is cool and crisp. We are looking forward to that."

The Big 12 Championship starts the change to postseason action, and in two weeks the Wildcats will compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Springfield, Mo. with an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships.