Cross Country Opens Season Saturday

Aug. 30, 2004

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas cross country teams will open the 2004 season this Saturday (September 4th), by hosting the Bob Timmons Invitational at Rim Rock Farm. The meet will begin with the men’s 8k race at 9:00 a.m.followed by the women’s 5k race at 10 a.m.

Head coach Stanley Redwine will enter his fifth season at the helm of the KU cross country program after his most successful season one year ago. Redwine saw his teams turn it on at the end of the season to finish strongly with both squads finishing in the top five at the NCAA Midwest Regionals. The fourth (men’s) and fifth (women’s) place finishes last year were the highest a cross country squad at Kansas has finished since 1994.

Leading the way on the men’s side this season will be sophomore sensation Benson Chesang (So., Ravine, Kenya). Chesang was the top performer for the Jayhawks last year and was also the lone Kansan to reach the NCAA Championships. Chesang recorded four second place finishes last year (Bob Timmons Invitational, Kansas State Invitational, OSU Cowboy Jamboree, Midwest Regional) and took 11th place at the Big 12 championships, before capturing a 48th place finish at the NCAA championships.

Add veterans Chris Jones (Sr., Iowa City, Iowa) and Cameron Schwehr (Jr., Colbert, Wash.) to the mix and the Jayhawks will look for their first conference championships since 1969. Jones had an impressive junior campaign as the number two runner. He finished 18th at the Big 12 Championships (25:29.50, 8k) and went on to place 11th at the NCAA Midwest Regional (31:28.00, 10k). Schwehr finished the season as the Jayhawks’ number three runner. He took 27th place at the Big 12 Championships (25:48.20, 8k), and recorded his best 8k time of the season at the NCAA Pre-Nationals with a time of 24:43.00.

The top two newcomers on the men’s side will be Paul Hefferon (Fr., Overland Park, Kan.) and Colby Wissel (Fr., Elm Creek, Neb.). Hefferon was crowned the “Distance King” last year as a high school senior. Hefferon hit a trifecta by winning the state cross country championship as well as the 3200 meters and the 1600 meters for the Blue Valley West track team. Wissel was the top runner in Nebraska a year ago as he also was the state cross country champion and doubled up at the state track meet with wins in the 3200 meters and 1600 meters. Also adding to the list of newcomers will be transfer juniors Matt French and Michael Putzke. Both French and Putzke competed at Western Michigan last season and joined the Jayhawks after the cross country program was cut in Kalamazoo.

The women’s team will look to improve on last year’s 10th place conference finish. Megan Manthe (Sr., Andover, Minn.) will enter the season as the number one runner. Manthe was the winner of last year’s Bob Timmons Invitational with a 5k time of 18:38.87. She competed well at the NCAA-Pre Nationals (79th, 22:03.00) and recorded her best 6k time of the year with a 17th place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional in 22:02:00.

Seniors Julie Mullally (Fremont, Neb), Arrah Nielsen (Wichita, Kan) and Monika Spinger (Berlin, Germany) will be asked to take on greater roles this season. Mullally, Nielsen and Spinger did not run in any post-season meets last year. Sophomore Jessie Violand competed in every event in her freshman campaign, placing 70th at the Big 12 Championships (24:33.10) and then went on to place 63rd at the Midwest Regionals.

A solid group of freshman will compete for some of the top running spots. Among those will be Connie Abbott (Overland Park, Kan.) and Lisa Morrisey (Ottawa, Kan.). Abbott was the 2002 Kansas state cross country champion for Shawnee Mission South High School. Morrisey comes to Lawrence from Ottawa High School. She placed near the top at the Kansas state meet all four years at Ottawa High School.