Jayhawks Head to Terre Haute for ISU Pre-Nationals

Oct. 15, 2009


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Kansas cross country returns to action this weekend for the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Jayhawks will face their largest field and toughest competition thus far in the season, as 152 teams, including 14 of the nation’s top 25 on both the men’s and women’s sides, are scheduled to compete.

“This is a huge meet,” said assistant coach Michael Whittlesey. “Not just in size, but in quality of competition. Going to a meet like the OSU Cowboy Jamboree is certainly a good stepping stone in preparation for a meet like this, but the depth at pre-nationals is going to be much bigger and we really need to place well in order to have a shot at nationals.”

The ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational is run on the LaVern Gibson Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, which is home to the NCAA Cross Country Championships held in November. The Jayhawks are familiar with the course, having competed at pre-nationals for the last seven consecutive seasons.

“This is a very fast course,” said sophomore Kaleb Humphreys. “Many of our guys set personal bests at this meet last year and we are hoping to have five guys run under 25:00 this weekend.”

The men’s team is coming off a sixth-place finish at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree. Although several runners bested their times from the 2008 meet, Coach Whittlesey was not satisfied with their execution of the team-running strategy and hopes the squad can do a better job of that in Terre Haute.

“We need to do better running as a pack this weekend than we did at our last meet,” said Whittlesey. “We need to be confident in our ability to get out fast in the first mile. Those that had a strong start at Oklahoma State saw success, but those that didn’t had a tougher time getting through the field.”

Sophomore Donny Wasinger has led the Jayhawks in the first three meets of the season and finished top among the squad at last year’s pre-nationals race. He will be joined by Bret Imgrund, Austin Bussing and Zach Zarda, all of whom have placed among the team’s top five in every meet this year.

Also competing this weekend for the men will be Nick Caprario, Dan Van Orsdel, Kaleb Humphreys, Josh Baden, Sam Bird, Diego Ladron and David Roberts.

The women’s team enters the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational after posting its best performance of the year with a second-place finish at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree. Senior Lauren Bonds finished second overall in Stillwater with a career-best 5K time of 17:19.90, while the Jayhawks’ No. 2, 3 and 4 finishers also set career-best times. The team will, again, look to Bonds, Miller, Windisch and Stowe as the key to success this weekend.

“Our front four just do an amazing job,” said Whittlesey. “We need to keep that group working well together and racing as a tight pack.”

However, the strength of the women’s team stretches beyond the front quartet. Senior Kellie Schneider and freshman Kathleen Thompson will also play a significant role this weekend, as they try to close the gap in the fifth spot.

“We are really increasing our depth to our fifth,” said Whittlesey. “Kellie and Kathleen have done a great job in working to get into that fifth spot, and if they can execute what we have practiced over the last two weeks, we should be in great position. We also have four to five others who are running closer to the front, so overall we should have a lot more help.”

Joining Bonds, Miller, Windisch, Stowe, Schneider and Thompson this weekend will be senior Alison Knoll, sophomores Devin Wiegers and Riley Wertenberger and freshmen Brenna Farren, Kyra Kilwein and Tessa Turcotte.

The women’s team is ranked fifth in the Midwest Region behind Iowa State, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The Jayhawks will face all four of those teams this weekend, as well as Big 12 foes Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State, Nebraska and Texas.

ISU Pre-Nationals is divided into three races (Blue, White and Open) for both the men and women. The men will compete in an 8K, while the women will run their first 6K race of the season. The men’s blue race will start at 11:00 a.m., followed by the men’s white race at 11:40 a.m., the women’s blue race at 12:20 p.m., the women’s white race at 12:55 p.m., the men’s open race at 1:30 p.m. and the women’s open race at 2:10 p.m.

Complete results and meet recap will be available on www.kuathletics.com following completion of the event.