Cross Country Season Outlook: 2010

Aug. 18, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

Kansas cross country is excited for the upcoming year, and its main concerns are to stay healthy and motivated. With the returning leadership of Don Wasinger on the men’s side and Amanda Miller on the women’s side, the Jayhawks are prepared to find success.

“They key for us on both the men’s and women’s side is to have a tight team, meaning have the No. 1 spot and the No. 5 spot have less than a minute in between their times,” head coach Stanley Redwine said. “I think we have the ability to do that and have a great season.”

WOMEN

The KU women’s team is coming off its best finish in 15 years, placing fifth overall at the 2009 Big 12 championship meet. However, with the loss of Lauren Bonds, who turned in one of the greatest individual seasons by a KU women’s runner in school history, the women’s team is looking to find strength in numbers.

“We can’t replace Lauren Bonds and she has done great things for us,” Redwine said. “We are looking for senior Amanda Miller and junior Rebeka Stowe to be our team leaders, as well as junior Kara Windisch to step-up.”

Miller, who was KU’s second in command during the 2009 season, finished the year in the No.2 spot in three of the five meets she competed in. Miller found early success at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree on Oct. 3, posting a career best 5K time of 17:42.50 and finishing 10th overall in a field of 211 runners. She finished her season on a high note at the Big 12 Championships, where she finished in 39th place.

Stowe was one of the Jayhawks’ top performers in 2009 and opened the season with an individual victory at the Bob Timmons Classic, crossing the finish line in 18:42:29 to set a new 5K course record at Rim Rock Farm. However, she went on to the OSU Cowboy Jamboree to post a career-best 5K time of 17:50.10, finishing 15th overall. Nevertheless, Stowe was not done setting records. In stiff competition at the ISU Pre-Nationals, Stowe set a career best 6K time of 21:51.70.

Windisch will be in the front lines with Miller and Stowe and is ready to build on her success from the 2009 season. Windisch was among Kansas’ top four finishers in the five of the six meets in which she competed in. She finished strong at the Bob Timmons Classic, placing second overall behind Stowe. Windisch also clocked two career-best times last season, a 5K time of 17:48.60 at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree and a 6K time of 22:53.19 at the Big 12 Championships.

“Stowe had an outstanding track season last year and Miller has been our captain for the last couple years,” assistant coach Michael Whittlesey said. “However, we have a good crew of about five to seven girls that will really be able to mix it up.”

Whittlesey is referring to sophomores Natalie Becker and Tessa Turcotte as well as junior newcomer Cori Christensen.

“We are looking for those three to come in and make an immediate impact,” Redwine said.

Rounding out the women’s side are five other newcomers who will help add depth on an already strong women’s team.

MEN

Although the KU men’s squad is welcoming back strong leadership, they are also welcoming on the squad 12 roster additions. However, junior Donny Wasinger, KU’s No. 1 finisher in all six 2009 meets, will continue leading the way.

“It is a great start to have so many newcomers on the men’s side,” Redwine said. “I think Coach Whit has done a great job of recruiting and getting some very good people on the team. There are two ways of looking at it. We are young, but at the same time the upperclassmen will have to step up and do a good job. I think the whole idea is that we will have a great nucleus and a good future.”

Wasinger will be one of the upperclassmen leading the men’s side. He has an impressive resume, being one of only two KU athletes to run a sub-25:00 8K throughout the 2009 season. Wasinger also placed second overall at the Missouri Cross Country Challenge, crossing the finish line in 26:05.30. In addition, he ran a career best 8K time of 24:83.10 at the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational, placing 42nd overall in a field of 236 runners. Wasinger ended his season positively by posting a career-best 10K time of 31:58.20 at the Midwest Regional Championships.

With three years of experience behind him, senior Nick Caprario will also be helping guide the newcomers on the men’s side. Caprario had arguably the best race of the 2009 season at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships where he ran the 10K course in 32:33.60 to finish second on the KU squad and 46th overall. Caprario also posted a season-best 25:31.90 at the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational, proving that he performs best under pressure.

Along with Wasinger and Caprario, junior Austin Bussing will round out the men’s top three spots. Bussing was among the Crimson and Blue’s top-five finishers in the five of the six meets in which he competed. Bussing made headlines at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree, posting a career-best 8K time of 25:26 to earn a season-best team finish of third. Bussing went on to compete in the Big 12 Championships, taking 62nd place.

“We are expecting Wasinger, Caprario and Bussing to be the leaders on the men’s side,” Whittlesey said. “Donny has been our No. 1 runner for his first two years and we are expecting him to maintain that. The emergence of Bussing and Caprario last year is really going to be good for the team.”

Redwine and Whittlesey are also looking to sophomore Josh Baden and junior Zach Zarda to be competitive leaders on the squad.

“We expect there to be five strong guys up front,” Whittlesey said. “Zarda and Baden will be right up there as well.”

Even though the men’s team is in somewhat of a rebuilding mode, the squad is looking to do big things this season with the help of the new recruits.

“We have a big group of freshmen coming in and we are expecting a couple of them to step forward,” Whittlesey said. “We will find out who has done their job this summer to make that happen.”

The Jayhawks have seven events on tap for the 2010 season, starting their season in familiar territory with the Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farm on Sept. 4 at 9 a.m. Both the men and women won the event in the 2009 season and hope to continue their winning streaks.

“Our first home meet is a good time to see where we are and how summer training went,” Redwine said. “It is a great opportunity to see our young people compete. It is a smaller meet and that is great for us. At the same time once you put that singlet on that says `Kansas’ everyone gets excited. It is a great way to see them start.”

After their debut event, the teams will travel to Columbia, Mo. for the Missouri Cross Country Challenge, followed by the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis.

The squad will then head to NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., for some stiff competition. After a two week recovery the Jayhawks will compete in the Big 12 Championships in Stillwater, Okla., to vie for the No. 1 spot in the league.

“We are looking to stay healthy and be our very best at the Big 12, Regionals and Nationals,” Redwine said.

The Jayhawks will end their season with NCAA competition. First, the Jayhawks will compete at the Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 13, with the hopes of moving on to the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 22.