👟 Pair of Jayhawks Earn Bid to NCAA Nationals at the NCAA Midwest Regionals
Stillwater, Okla. – Seniors Chandler Gibbens and Lona Latema both finished in the Top-10 to earn themselves both a spot at the 2023 NCAA Cross Country Nationals next week and a USTFCCCA All-Region selection.
The duo were both the first individual qualifiers to finish the race, as the top-four finishers on a team that doesn’t qualify for nationals earn their spot. This is the first time since 2015 that a male athlete and a female athlete from Kansas has qualified for nationals in the same year.
The day started with the women’s 6K. Latema earned a podium finish as she placed third in a field of 231 student-athletes. Her time of 20:31.2 matched her personal-best. She was the only Jayhawk to finish in the Top-50.
Kenadi Krueger was the next Jayhawk to finish as she placed 67th with a time of 22:00.9. Later on, KU had back-to-back finishers in Tori Wingrove and Addison Coppinger. Wingrove finished in 99th in 22:24.2 and Coppinger finished 100th in 22:25.3.
The team finished 16th overall, in a field of 32, with 392 points. They topped Iowa, Wichita State, Creighton and Oklahoma, among others.
"She (Latema) had a great race today. She’s been training like that, so we were waiting for that type of race to show up. She just looked tremendous today and did a great job competing and taking care of business."Assistant Coach Micheal Whittlesey
After the women’s race was the men’s 10K, the longest race of the season for the Jayhawks. Gibbens led the way again, earning a sixth-place finish in 30:21.2. Peter Walsdorf was just outside of the Top-30 as he placed 31st in 31:26.8. Cale Littrell, Tanner Talley and Sawyer Schmidt were able to crack the Top-100 at 88th, 97th and 100th.
Overall, Kansas placed ninth as a team with 322. They defeated Wichita State, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Creighton, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Nebraska, among others.
"His (Gibbens) goal today was to do what he needed to do. We were trying to go out and win the race, we have bigger goals next week. He did a great job of managing the race and put himself in a position where he was never stressed."Assistant Coach Michael Whittlesey
The Kansas duo of Gibbens and Latema will travel to Charlottesville, Va, where they will compete in the NCAA Nationals meet next Saturday, November 18.