Jayhawks Eager to Host Rim Rock Classic Saturday
Sept. 27, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – One of the nation’s highest profile meets will be held this weekend in Lawrence when the Kansas men’s and women’s cross country teams host the Rim Rock Classic Saturday morning. The men will kick things off at the Jayhawks’ home course, Rim Rock Farm, with the 8K race at 9 a.m., while the starting gun for the women’s 6K is set to go off at 10 a.m.
“This meet is a great opportunity for the program to bring national attention to our outstanding home course,” said fourth-year assistant coach Michael Whittlesey. “We’re excited about bringing some national-level teams here and for the athletes themselves, they get a chance to compete on their home course in a big-time meet for the first time.”
Both teams are coming off victories in the season’s opening meet, the Bob Timmons Classic (Sept. 1), but will be tested with some stiff completion as they will go up against several highly-touted teams such as the No. 11 Michigan men, 22nd-ranked Toledo men, 11th-ranked Indiana women, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Air Force.
The KU men had a strong showing to kick off the year and hope to continue their strong pack running which they exhibited to near perfection in the season’s opening meet. Senior Josh Baden was the winner of the race but three of his teammates finished less than a second behind. The KU coaches know the men will need another tight Jayhawk contingent in order to be successful Saturday.
“The key for us is always to have a close gap from our one through five runners,” Whittlesey explained. “On the men’s side I feel like we’ve got a really strong front seven and we need to keep that gap as close as we possibly can. We’ve got two really strong teams in Indiana and Air Force that will make this a really tough team competition. We’re going to be tested, there’s no question about that.”
The Jayhawk women also had an impressive outing to begin the 2012 campaign, boasting eight runners finishing within the top-10 at the Bob Timmons Classic on Sept. 1. Several of the underclassmen have turned some heads early in the year, with first-year runners Hannah Richardson, Sara Seiwald and Hayley Francis moving to the front of the women’s pack. However, in the time since the first meet of the year, the veterans have begun to stake their claims as the team’s top runners, giving the group the all-important depth it needs to be successful this weekend.
“The women will also be going against some teams that are really good,” Whittlesey said. “Michigan, Toledo and Indiana are some good programs that will really go after this course. It will be critical for us to close our gap from one to five runners. Our veterans, Kathleen (Thompson) and Tessa (Turcotte) have gotten a lot better and a lot fitter since that first meet and they’ve closed that gap. There’s no question that they should be in our front three or four finishers which will really help us out.”
The meet Saturday begins a string of three meets in three-consecutive weeks for the Jayhawks. The competition both KU teams will see at Rim Rock will help prepare them for the tough stretch ahead, not only with scouting of the teams they could see later in the year, but with discovering their own team identities.
“This meet will be a great measuring stick for both teams,” Whittlesey concluded. “We’re going to learn a lot more about our teams this weekend than we did in the first meet. Our athletes are a lot more fit and now we can see the dynamics of who needs to be running with whom. We can take the reins off of our runners a little bit earlier in the race and those are the type of things we will learn a lot about this week.”
Admission to the meet is free to the public. For complete results and updates from the Rim Rock Classic log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on twitter at KU_Track.
The Jayhawks will trek across town to Haskell Indian Nations University for the Haskell Invitational Saturday, Oct. 6. The women’s 5K is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m., with the men’s 8K starting approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the prior race. Updates and results can be found at KUAthletics.com and on twitter at KU_Track.
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