2009 Cross Country Season in Review

Dec. 22, 2009


The 2009 cross country season was one filled with high hopes and new experiences, as Kansas returned 10 letterwinners from the 2008 campaign and welcomed a new distance coach in Michael Whittlesey, Ph.D.

It did not take long for Coach Whittlesey to make an impact on the cross country program, as ten different KU women and seven different KU men set one or more personal records throughout the season.

Both teams also improved upon their results from last year in a majority of the meets, including the best finish in 15 years for the KU women at the league championship meet. The Jayhawks finished fifth overall in the Big 12, which was a three-spot improvement from their performance in 2008 and the first top-five finish since 1993.

Also highlighting the women’s season was senior Lauren Bonds, who turned in one of the greatest individual seasons by a KU women’s runner in school history. Most notably, she became the first Kansas female runner to compete at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships since 1994.

Bonds finished 61st at the 2009 National Championships in a competitive field that featured 255 of the nation’s top runners. She earned her automatic bid to Terre Haute after finishing fifth overall in the Midwest Region with a personal-best 6K time of 20:49.10. She was the top finisher for any individual not on a national qualifying team. The Hutchinson, Kan., native also earned All-Region honors for the second consecutive year.

The men’s team was led by sophomore Donny Wasinger, who finished first on the squad in all six meets. Although the Jayhawks faced tough competition throughout the season, including 14 of the 31 teams who competed at the national championships, the men saw vast improvement in several runners and grew entirely as a team, giving the coaches and school much to look forward to in 2010, as well as in the upcoming track seasons.

Off the course, eight members of the Kansas cross country squads earned academic recognition. Five members of the men’s team and three on the women’s received Academic All-Big 12 honors. Junior Dan Van Orsdel and sophomores Austin Bussing, Kaleb Humphreys and Zach Zarda were all named to the first team, while junior Nick Caprario earned second-team accolades. On the women’s side, Bonds was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team for the third consecutive year, while sophomore Rebeka Stowe was honored for the first time. Junior Amanda Miller was named to the second team.

Bob Timmons Classic (Sept. 5, 2009 – Lawrence, Kan.)

Kansas opened the 2009 cross country season with victories on both the men’s and women’s side at the annual Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farm. This marked the fourth consecutive year the Jayhawks have swept their home opener meet.

Despite the absence of their top two runners in Bonds and Miller, the KU women’s team finished 1-2 in the race, while placing three others in the top 10. Stowe was the individual champion, finishing in a career-best 5K time of 18:42.29. She also set a 5K course record for Rim Rock Farm, which was previously held by teammate Bonds. Sophomore Kara Windisch finished just seconds behind Stowe to take second place, also in a career-best 5K time of 18:45.37.

The Jayhawks had several freshmen turn in solid times in their first collegiate race, including Kathleen Thompson, Allie Marquis and Lawrence native, Kyra Kilwein, who all finished among the top 10.

The men’s team saw similar success, as it had five runners place in the top 10. Wasinger paced the men, finishing first on the team and third overall with a 6K time of 19:24.13.

Freshman David Roberts had a dominating performance in his first race in the Crimson and Blue. The Mulvane, Kan. native was the No. 2 KU finisher for the Jayhawks and placed fifth overall, clocking in at 19:34.44.

Bret Imgrund finished sixth with a 6K time of 19:35.71. He was followed by Zarda, who crossed the finish line in dramatic fashion, as he pushed passed a runner from Garden City CC in the final seconds to take seventh with a time of 19:38.58.

Missouri Cross Country Challenge (Sept. 12, 2009 – Columbia, Mo.)

The Kansas men’s cross country team was victorious for the second week in a row, as they won the Missouri Cross Country Challenge, held on the A.L. Gustin Golf Course. The women’s team took second place behind host school Missouri.

Exhibiting a solid team running strategy, the men captured the No. 2 through No. 5 spots, as well as placing three others in the top 10. The Jayhawks finished with a team score of 21, which was 29 points ahead of second-place Missouri.

Wasinger again led the squad, finishing second overall with an 8K time of 26:05.30. Zarda and Bussing took third and fourth, respectively, with Zarda clocking in at 26:11.20 and Bussing posting an 8K time of 26:17.50.

Rounding out the top five for the men were Imgrund, who crossed the finish line in 26:21.70 and Caprario, who ran a 26:28.40.

On the women’s side, both Bonds and Miller made their 2009 debuts, finishing fourth and fifth overall in the race. Bonds ran a 5K time of 18:10.80, while Miller clocked in at 18:22.70. Windisch, Stowe Thompson rounded out the scoring for the Jayhawks, as they finished in sixth, seventh and ninth place, respectively.


OSU Cowboy Jamboree (Oct. 3, 2009 – Stillwater, Okla.)

Four KU women set personal best 5K times en route to a second-place overall finish at the 73rd Annual OSU Cowboy Jamboree. The men placed sixth in a competitive 25-team field.

Bonds was the runner-up at the event, posting a career-best 5K time of 17:19.90. Miller was the Jayhawks’ No. 2 finisher, as she crossed the finish line in 10th place, also with a career-best 5K time of 17:42.50. Just seconds behind Miller were Windisch and Stowe, who placed 15th and 16th, respectively. Windisch ran a career-best 17:48.60, while Stowe clocked in at 17:50.10, also marking a career-best time.

For the third consecutive race, Wasinger was the Jayhawks’ top finisher, running the 8K in a time of 24:56.30. He placed 31st overall in a field of 245 runners. Imgrund also had a strong performance, as he led the Jayhawks for much of the race, but finished just behind Wasinger at 25:03.70 to take 37th place.

ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational (Oct. 17, 2009 – Terre Haute, Ind.)

Faced with their largest and most competitive fields of the season, the Kansas men’s and women’s teams managed to finish in the top half of their respective races at the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. The men finished 17th in a field of 34 teams, four of which were ranked in the top 10 nationally, while the women placed 18th in field of 37, also with four of the nation’s top 10 squads.

The KU men competed in the Blue race, which had 238 individual runners and the women were placed in the white race with 247 individual competitors.

Not only did the men’s team as a whole see improvement from its finish at last year’s pre-nationals meet, but five individuals placed at least 80 spots ahead of where they did in 2008 and three Jayhawks set career-best times.

Wasinger paced the men, finishing 42nd overall with a career-best 8K time of 24:38.10. Imgrund also ran a career-best time, finishing the 8K course in 24:46.60 to take 59th place.

Humphreys was the Jayhawks’ No. 3 finisher, as he ran a 25:06.10, which marked a career-best time for the sophomore.

On the women’s side, Bonds had an impressive race, as she beat 230 other runners to take 17th place overall in 6K time of 21:03.70.

Miller and Stowe finished just two seconds apart to take 72nd and 77th place, respectively. Miller clocked in at 21:49.60, while Stowe ran a career-best time of 21:51.70. Senior Kellie Schneider stepped up to fill the No. 4 spot for the Jayhawks, as she also ran a career-best 6K time of 22:22 and placed 118th overall.

Big 12 Cross Country Championships (Oct. 31, 2009 – Columbia, Mo.)

It was a soggy, muddy day on the A.L. Gustin Golf Course in Columbia, Mo., but the Kansas women’s cross country earned its best finish in 15 years at the league championship meet, as the team captured fifth place overall at the 2009 Big 12 Cross Country Championships. Bonds led the women’s team with a 10th-place overall finish and received All-Big 12 honors for the second consecutive year. The men tied for eighth with rival Missouri, collecting 237 total points.

Since the establishment of the Big 12 Conference in 1996, the KU women had not placed higher than sixth at the championship event. This season, the Jayhawks’ top five runners all placed within the top 50, which earned the team a three-spot improvement from its 2008 performance and its best since 1994.

Bonds became the only woman in school history to win back-to-back All-Big 12 honors after finishing 10th in a 6K time of 21:46.52. Stowe also had a strong race, as she finished 28th overall with a 6K time of 22:35.07. Windisch was the Jayhawks’ No. 3 finisher with a time of 22:53.19, while Miller was close behind in 39th place with a 6K time of 22:59.25.

Rounding out the scoring for the Crimson and Blue was Schneider, who had one of her best races of the season according to the coaches. The senior from Kenosha, Wis., clocked in at 23:03.85 to take 47th place.

Wasinger again took charge for the KU men, finishing 38th with an 8K time of 26:00.82. Imgrund was next to cross the finish line, as he ran a 26:03.15 to take 41st place.

Van Orsdel and Caprario placed 53rd and 56th, respectively, while Bussing filled the No. 5 position on the team, finishing in 62nd place with an 8K time of 26:44.50.

NCAA Midwest Regional Championships (Nov. 14, 2009 – Springfield, Mo.)

Highlighting the 2009 Midwest Regional Championships was Bonds, who finished fifth overall to earn an automatic bid to the 2009 Cross Country National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Bonds set a career-best 6K time of 20:49.10 and earned All-Region honors for the second consecutive season.

The women’s team as a whole finished 10th in the Midwest Region, collecting 247 total points. Windisch was the Jayhawks’ No. 2 finisher, as she placed 42nd overall with a 6K time of 21:56.50. Schneider was 63rd with a time of 22:25, while Stowe came in 68th place with a time of 22:39.90.

The men’s team took ninth place overall, which was a one-spot improvement from its regional ranking entering the event. The Jayhawks were once again led by Wasinger, who finished in 35th place with a career-best 10K time of 31:58.20.

Both Caprario and Zarda performed well in Springfield, finishing as the Jayhawks’ No. 2 and No. 3 runners. Caprario clocked in 32:23.60 to take 46th, while Zarda posted a 10K time of 32:35.50 to earn 52nd place in his first Midwest Regional Championship appearance.

With the exception of Bonds, the Midwest Regional Championships marked the end of the 2009 season for Kansas Cross Country. Of the 14 athletes that competed at this meet, Kansas will graduate three members in Lauren Bonds, Kellie Schneider and Bret Imgrund.

NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships (Nov. 23, 2009 – Terre Haute, Ind.)

Bonds was the first KU female athlete to compete at the cross country national championships since 1994. Despite falling in the first kilometer of the race, Bonds recovered well and finished 61st overall in a 6K time of 21:02.30. She was one of 37 individual competitors at the meet and finished ninth overall among that group. The race as a whole featured 31 teams and 254 total female runners.