Kansas Men Claim Sixth at NCAA Midwest Regional
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –; Led by an all-region performance from freshman Gabe Gonzalez, the 29th-ranked Kansas men’s cross country team claimed a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships Friday afternoon at the meet hosted by Missouri State. The KU women finished 13th in the team standings with senior Kathleen Thompson leading the way.
“I thought today we showed we can compete with some of the better teams in the nation,” said head coach Stanley Redwine following the meet. “Obviously, we would have liked to place higher to ensure our spot at Nationals but now we will just have to wait and see if we get in.”
With the winds howling around the MSU Cross Country Course Friday afternoon the KU men took to the starting blocks in Springfield looking to improve upon their 8th-place finish from a year ago and earn their first bid to the NCAA Championships since 2006. It would be a tall order though as the Jayhawks were competing in one of the most competitive regions in the nation as the Midwest featured four nationally-ranked teams.
From the gun the men’s 10K race began at a pedestrian pace. With as many as 50 runners making up the lead pack through the first half of the race, no team was able to earn a noticeable edge. Senior Donny Wasinger, sophomores James Wilson and Reid Buchanan and Gonzalez comprised the KU continent fighting for position in the lead group for the first hlaf of the race. In the final 2K runners from several teams began to make their moves, allowing the race to quicken and the competitors to spread out. Gonzalez held out the longest and used a strong kick in the final 400 meters to move ahead of his teammates and claim KU’s No. 1 spot.
For the sixth time in as many meets, a new member of the men’s squad was KU’s top finisher. Gonzalez, a redshirt freshman out of Springdale, Ark., came to the finish in 30:58.76 to finish 24th and collect USTFCCCA All-Region honors, the first Jayhawk to do so since 2010. Gonzalez’;s finish also made him the first KU freshman to garner all-region accolades since the current regional format began in 1997.
“;The men’s strength all season has been our close distance from one to seven and I think that showed today,” said Redwine. “It was Gabe’s turn to be the leader today and I thought he turned in a really solid race.”
Wasinger finished 15 seconds later when he posted a time of 31:13.58, good enough for a 35th-place finish. The Winona, Minn., native has now been among the team’s top-two finishers in each race he has competed in this season.
Buchanan and Wilson were next to cross the line for the Jayhawks, with Buchanan collecting a 40th-place finish on a time of 31:16.43 and Wilson finishing 44th, clocking in at 21:28.10. Senior Josh Baden rounded out the team scoring with his 51st-place finish. The Colby, Kan., native traversed the 10k course in 13:35.26.
The men’s team amassed a score of 194 points to finish sixth in the team standings, their lowest point total at the Regional race in six years. The top-five Kansas finishers also had a gap of just 37 seconds between their first and fifth finishers, the closest gap for the KU men’s pack this season.
The Jayhawk men will now wait and see if they will earn one of the 13 at-large bids for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. The announcement will be made on Saturday, Nov. 10 at noon, and will be posted on NCAA.com.Â Â
For the KU women, senior Kathleen Thompson led the group for the second time this season as she completed the 6K in 21:55.73 to earn a 47th-place overall finish. Just four seconds behind was freshman-standout Hannah Richardson, who in her first Regional Championships posted a 54th-place finish and clocked in with a time of 21:59.87. Richardson’s finish made her just the second KU freshman since 1997 to finish among KU’s top-two finishers at the Regional meet.
“It was a good race for Kathleen today,”said Redwine.”She went out and did the things that we told her she needed to do. As a team, we didn’t have the quality of depth to contend with some of the top but our future is definitely promising. We’re excited about what Hannah Richardson did this year and if we continue to get people healthy, the team will be in great shape.
Senior Kyra Kilwein was the next Jayhawk finisher when she notched a time of 22:08.67 to finish 62nd overall. Tessa Turcotte crossed the finish line in 22:47.57 to post a 102nd-place finish and junior Natalie Becker rounded out the KU scoring with her 116th-place and a time of 23:01.75. The KU women amassed a score of 367 points to finish 13th out of 31 teams.
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