Bonds Set For National Championship Debut

Nov. 21, 2009

Bonds Pre-Meet Interview


After four years of disciplined training and determination, Kansas distance runner Lauren Bonds will finally get her shot on the big stage. The senior from Hutchinson, Kan., earned an automatic bid to the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships after finishing fifth in the Midwest Region. Bonds will compete against the nation’s best runners on Monday, Nov. 23 at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Bonds has been the top performer for the Jayhawks for the last three seasons, which includes six top-20 finishes in 2009. Each year, Bonds’ results have improved, but none was better than her performance last weekend at the Midwest Regional Championships in Springfield, Mo. Bonds took charge of the race from the moment the gun fired. She positioned herself in the lead pack early and never faded throughout the entire 6-kilometer course. In the final 400 meters, Bonds found the energy to pass a rival runner from Kansas State to take fifth place overall in a race that featured 137 competitors. She posted a personal-best time of 20:49.10, which was the top finish for any individual not on a national qualifying team.

With the excitement of qualifying now pleasantly in the past, Bonds has shifted her focus to the task at hand; the national championship. She has competed on the LaVern Gibson Championship course several times in her career, so there should be no surprises in terms of terrain.

“This is a really nice course,” said Bonds. “It’s really fast and really flat, which I think helps me, because I am more of a track runner, so it is similar in that you go around and around in circles on a flat surface. All of my PRs, up until last weekend, were set on this course, so I think it will be a good situation.”

Although she is familiar with the course, there will be one notable difference at this meet, as this is the first time Bonds’ will be competing without her teammates.

“It is hard not having my teammates here because we do everything together, both on and off the course,” said Bonds. “As far as the race goes, it will be hard to know that my teammates are not behind me, but in track, you are always by yourself, so I think I am just going to treat it like a track meet; get out there, do my thing and get it done.”

Bonds’ has already proved herself as one of the all-time elite athletes to compete for the Crimson and Blue, but on Monday, she will vie for the title of NCAA Cross Country All-American; an honor only one other female runner in Kansas history has achieved. Julia Saul earned All-American accolades in 1992 when she finished 18th overall at the national championships in a 5K time of 17:50. If Bonds finishes in the top 40 at nationals, she would join Saul on this exclusive list.

“I really want to be an All-American,” proclaimed Bonds. “I have an idea of who I need to run with based on who has been top 40 in the past and who I have been seeing all year. I am going to run to the best of my ability and hopefully that will put me in the top 40.”

Although the “All-American” goal is certainly within reach for the senior, she expects to enjoy this experience no matter the outcome.

Bonds’ 6K race will begin at 11:58 CST and will be broadcast live on VERSUS television network in high definition. This marks the first time ever the cross country championships will be broadcast in HD. The NCAA will also be streaming the event live on the web at Complete results and a meet recap will be available on following the event.