2006 Kansas Cross Country Year-In-Review

May 4, 2007


The 2006 Cross Country season was very successful for the men’s squad while providing the women’s team reasons to be optimistic for next season. Juniors Colby Wissel and Paul Hefferon became the first pair of Jayhawks to be named All-Americans since 1994 and sophomore Megan James was named to Academic All-Big 12 team with a perfect 4.0 GPA. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Wissel and Hefferon earned All-American honors for their performances at the NCAA Championships in <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Terre Haute, Ind. In the 10K race, Wissel, who led KU most of the year, finished 26th in 31:43.3. Hefferon was not far behind with a time of 31:47.7, good for 42nd place. Seniors Erik Sloan and Matt French helped propel the Jayhawks to a 20th place finish as a team. Sloan (33:12.1) ended his Jayhawk career with a 164th place finish while French (33:35.6) finished 88th.

This season Kansas became the 11th different school in 11 years to host the Big 12 Championships when the conference schools competed at Rim Rock Farm on October 27. After Benson Chesang won the previous two conference titles, this time it was another Jayhawk, Wissel, who took home the men’s crown. Wissel fought off the frigid conditions and the hilly terrain to win the 8K race in time of 24:34. Hefferon placed fourth and Chesang finished 12th, earning All-Big 12 honors, to help Kansas to a third place finish.

In recognition for his success throughout the season, Wissel was named Big 12 runner of the week on Sept. 13, after winning the Kansas State Wildcat Invitational on Sept. 8. Wissel ran a sub 15-minute 5K (14:57.2) to be the first of three consecutive Jayhawks to cross the finish line. Both the men’s and the women’s teams swept the Wildcats in the dual meet.

For the second-consecutive season, the men and women also swept the Bob Timmons Invitational. Hefferon (25:38.95) fought off Wissel for the first win of his collegiate career.

Wissel, along with French and Sloan, were named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. Tyler Kelly and Adrian Ludwig were named to the second team.

Next season the Jayhawks return a trio of experienced seniors with Wissel, Hefferon and Patrick McGowan. The team will look toward a number of underclassmen to help Kansas qualify for a third-straight NCAA Championship bid.

The women’s team got off to a promising start in 2006 with back-to-back meet victories at the Bob Timmons Invitational and the Kansas State Invitational. Melissa O’Rourke led Kansas on their home course with a sixth-place finish (23:14.51) at Rim Rock Farm. At the KSU meet, the Jayhawks edged the Wildcats by one point. Alicia McGregor ran the 5K in a time of 18:50.2 to finish third. Lisa Morrisey was not far behind, as she was the second KU runner to cross the finish line, placing fourth (18:58.6).

At the Big 12 Championships, Kansas was unable to find the same success they had in September at Rim Rock Farm. The Jayhawks finished in 11th place and were led by Morrisey’s 45th place finish. The junior from Ottawa, Kan., finished the 6K race in a time of 22:48.9.

At the NCAA Midwest Regionals, Kansas finished in 12th place, far from qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Morrisey (22:42.9) and O’Rourke (22:45.4) led the way placing 60th and 61st, respectively.

A promising addition to the women’s team this season was freshman Lauren Bonds. The Hutchinson, Kan. native started the year running unattached and then contributed greatly to the Kansas squad. Bonds was consistently a top-four finisher for the Jayhawks and ran a season best time of 22:49 (6K) at the NCAA Pre-Nationals. Her performance helped lead KU to a second-place finish out of 13 schools in the women’s open division. Another consistent scorer late in the year was Kellie Schneider. The freshman from Kenosha, Wisc., ran a season best of 22:45.2 at pre-nationals and was the third finisher for the Jayhawks at the meet.

The Kansas women named four to the Academic All-Big 12 team. Sophomore Megan James highlighted the team with her 4.0 GPA. Joining James on the first team were seniors Laura Major and Melissa Moody. The honor marks the third-consecutive year that Major has been named to the Academic All-Big 12 team. Moody was named for the second-straight year. Sophomore Bridget Moran was honored on the second team.

By having 10 freshmen on the team, Kansas battled hard throughout the season. Major will be the only departing member. Next season this young squad will have more experience and will strive for improvement.

Written by Media Relations Student Assistant Steven Schoon