Freshman Reid Buchanan Displaying Fortitude

Oct. 19, 2011

Cross country runner Reid Buchanan has been impressive in his first year at Kansas. Buchanan has definitely ratcheted up his level of commitment to himself and the team. From the hard work that Buchanan has put into his sport he has earned the right to travel and compete with the team on the road, an uncommon feat for a freshman. Assistant Coach Michael Whittlesey is among those taking notice.

“He has very high goals and I think he should have very high goals. We think he can be a fantastic runner here at KU over the years,” said Whittlesey.

101911aab_846_5734322.jpegBeing able to contribute to the team as a freshman is huge according to Whittlesey. The coaches, including Head Coach Stanley Redwine, had originally planned to redshirt Buchanan because they felt their roster had ample depth. Giving Buchanan a year without competing would help him focus on preparing his skills to go up against tougher competition. The coaches quickly changed their opinions after Buchanan displayed his impressive work ethic and talent.

“That speaks volumes of his commitment and his natural ability,” said Whittlesey. “He has sped up the process in terms of making an impact on the team.”

Buchanan’s first few months as a Jayhawk have been pretty hectic. The learning curve is fairly steep in Buchanan’s opinion. Freshmen have to learn the drills in stride and the system of practice at Kansas. It was Buchanan’s ability to pick up on the system quickly and respond in a successful manner that has set him up to contribute to the team in his first year.

“I feel like I learned pretty quickly,” said Buchanan. “Now it seems like I have been here forever.”

Buchanan is running to more than 50 miles – that’s the equivalent of running from Lawrence to Ottawa and back – each week. In high school he was doing roughly half that distance. Beyond the increase in mileage Buchanan has added more training in the weight room along with an hour of drills and core exercises almost every day.

At Manhattan High School, Buchanan was a year-round athlete competing in football, basketball and track. He became more focused as a runner his junior year when he switched from football to cross country and ran in the winter instead of playing basketball.

“Running is one sport that you can directly see your hard work pay off,” said Buchanan. “Your times can not lie.”

The move to focus on running would pay off with success for Buchanan. As a junior, he earned all-state cross country honors and was the Kansas 6A State champion in the 1,600 meters on the track. Buchanan closed out his senior season of high school with three more titles at the 2011 Kansas 6A State Track and Field Meet, winning the 3,200 meters, the 1,600 meters and the 800-meter races.

Buchanan’s success in high school got a few schools’ attention. He traveled to Spokane, Wash. to tour Gonzaga’s campus. But how do you convince a kid that grew up in Manhattan, Kan. and attended Wildcat football games, to go to school at Kansas? According to Buchanan, he felt comfortable with his soon-to-be Kansas teammates and coaches; he was interested in the engineering program; it helps that Kansas is very affordable; and most importantly, the facilities helped Buchanan decide that Kansas was the place for him.

“I just felt that I could be more successful as a runner at KU,” said Buchanan. “I just knew that I wanted to go to KU after taking my visit here.”

Buchanan is the son of two K-State grads. Therefore, Buchanan wasn’t the only one that needed to be convinced that Kansas was the right place to be. Coach Whittlesey was able to develop a sense of trust with the Buchanans that the program at KU was the right fit for Reid.

What was it that Coach Whittlesey saw in Buchanan that convinced him that he was the right runner for their roster?

“I knew he was a pretty tough competitor,” said Whittlesey. “That is what we want to build our program around; tough competitors.”