Jayhawks Depart for NCAA Pre-Nationals

Oct. 11, 2006


The University of Kansas cross country teams will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., Saturday to compete in the NCAA Pre-Nationals. The competition will take place at the LaVern Gibson Course at the Wabash Valley Family Athletics Center on the campus of Indiana State University. The Jayhawks join a star-studded field of highly rated teams, including Stanford, Arizona and Big 12 rival Colorado.

At last year’s meet, the men’s squad performed admirably, finishing fourth of the 33 teams in their division. Senior Benson Chesang set the pace for the team, finishing the 8k race in a time of 24:05.2, good for 14th place. He was followed by juniors Paul Hefferon, who placed 29th in a time of 24:18.1, and Colby Wissel, who finished 52nd in a time of 24:35. Seniors Erik Sloan and Tyler Kelly rounded out the men’s top-five finishers, placing 61st and 75th, respectively.

At its last competition, the men’s team placed ninth at the Roy Griak Invitational. Wissel recorded a team best 10th-place finish at the 6k event in a time of 24:53.8. Hefferon followed closely on his heels, placing 16th among the field in a time of 25:04.7. Senior Benson Chesang, the two-time defending Big 12 champion, placed 44th in a time of 25:44.2.

On the women’s side, the team looks to continue the steady improvement that has marked the early results of the 2006 season. The team finished 23rd at the Roy Griak Invitational, a three-place improvement from 2005 and won both the Kansas State Wildcat and the Bob Timmons Invitationals.

Leading the charge for the women’s squad has been the trio of juniors Lisa Morrisey, Alicia McGregor and Melissa O’Rourke. McGregor’s third-place finish helped the squad fend off the Wildcats by one point at the Kansas State Wildcat Invitational, as her 5k time of 18:50.2 was a nearly 90-second improvement over her time from the previous year. O’Rourke was the team’s top finisher at the Bob Timmons Invitational, placing sixth in a time of 23:14.5. At the 2005 NCAA Pre-Nationals, the Jayhawk women placed fourth in the open division of the competition.

“We want to continue to work hard against other teams. I think we stick together and we’ve now gotten it into our heads that we need to go after the other teams,” O’Rourke said about the event. “As a team, I just want us to do well, finish better than last year and build our confidence up as we head to the Big 12 Championships.”

The event, which will also be the site for the 2006 NCAA Championships, will have a field of 78 men’s and 81 women’s teams, which will subsequently be divided into different divisions. Those divisions will be announced Friday. The event also features the debut of a new 6k course for the women’s competition.

Stay tuned to kuathletics.com for division announcements and results.