Sept. 13, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State cross country teams continue their season Saturday when the Wildcats participate in the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. The women will compete in the 6K at 10 a.m. while the men will follow in the 8K at 10:45.
The last time the Wildcats ran at the Woody Greeno Invitational was in 2008 when Beverly Ramos won the women’s meet and the Wildcat women lost to Nebraska by just four points. The men finished in 12th place that year, with their best runner being Colin Swaney who finished 19th.
In addition to the hosting Nebraska Cornhuskers, K-State will take on Air Force, South Dakota and other NCAA Division II schools and junior colleges. A total of 60 teams will participate with a total of 700 runners. This is the first time the cross country teams have participated in a meet since the JK Gold Classic in Wichita on September 1.
During the JK Gold Classic, the Wildcat women finished second with 33 points, losing to Wichita State by just seven points. The Wildcat men finished fourth with 80 points, losing to Wichita State, Oklahoma Baptist and Southwestern.
Sophomore Fernando Roman, who participated in his first-ever cross country meet, won the race with a time of 18:37.9. Winning the meet also earned him Big 12 Runner of the Week honors.
Head Coach Michael Smith expects nothing less than a second straight top finish from the reigning Big 12 Runner of the week.
“Roman looks great,” Smith said. “If he runs this race the way he did at the JK Gold Classic and at his level of fitness, he’ll be right there at the top. He is capable of running with the best runners who run at this meet.”
Although Roman is expected to lead the men’s team, Smith is also relying on two other factors: the freshmen runners and veteran leadership, although the freshmen may have increased difficulty.
“The freshmen are running an 8K for the first time, which will make things more difficult. While they made progress in practice during the last few weeks, they’re still freshmen,” said Smith. “We are relying on them for depth. However, we’ll run well in Lincoln because of our older runners performing better than they did at the JK Gold Classic in Wichita. Kyle Hanson, Ryan Hershner and Roman will help us be competitive at the meet because they’re more prepared to run an 8K.”
Along with sophomores Laura Galvan and Erika Schiller, freshman Mary Frances Donnelly was among three of the top five finishers at the JK Gold Classic. Galvan finished second overall with a time of 13:42.52, Schiller finished third with a time of 14:17.34 and Donnelly finished fifth with a time of 14:28.33. Smith believes Galvan and Schiller can perform well in Lincoln, just as they did in Wichita two weeks ago. However, there may be an adjustment period for the freshmen runners, including Donnelly.
“I expect Galvan and Schiller to be what they were in Wichita. Donnelly is a freshman and this is her first time running a 6K. It will also be the first time that two other freshmen, Sonja Schneider and Paige Kochuyt are running a 6K,” Smith said. “From what I’ve seen in practice, I expect them to be more competitive than they were two weeks ago when it was their first race. I think they will react more like they’ve been there before. At the end, I expect Galvan and Schiller to be near the top with Donnelly trying to get there.”
While Smith does not expect there to be any letdown from the women’s team going into the meet, they are relying on the freshmen for depth.
“We’ve made progress in the last two weeks. We should be competitive again. It’s risky to rely on freshmen for our depth because we’re not sure what we’re going to get,” said Smith. “However, I’ve seen improvement, consistency in practice and a greater understanding from them of what it takes to be successful. They are training harder and getting better in practice. The most improvement that will be seen this week will come from the depth.”
Following the Woody Greeno Invitational, the Wildcats will have two weeks again to prepare for their next meet when K-State will travel to Lawrence to run in the Rim Rock Invitational on September 29.