Jayhawks Ready to Open 2013 with Bob Timmons Classic
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The KU cross country teams will kick off the 2013 season at home on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 9 a.m., when the Jayhawks host the Bob Timmons Classic at Rim Rock Farm. The KU men will try to claim their 11th-straight team victory on their home course while the women will be going for their eighth win in the last nine Bob Timmons meets.
The meet will begin at 9 a.m., with the men’s 6K race. At 10 a.m., the women will hit the course to compete in the 5K race. The Jayhawks will welcome teams from Haskell, Highland Community College, Nebraska-Omaha and Park University. Oral Roberts and UMKC will join Kansas in a double-dual style scoring format.
With some of the veteran runners watching from the sidelines, the KU coaches will be looking to see who the leaders are among the underclassmen at the early point of the season.
With the loss of all-region runners Donny Wasinger and Gabe Gonzalez, the KU coaches will now try and find who among the remaining athletes will take the reins of the men’s squad that was ranked in the top-25 of the NCAA a year ago. Ten men return to this year’s 17-member roster, the majority of which were a part of Kansas’ successful run through the 2012 campaign. Saturday’s race will give fans a great look at the future of KU cross country and possibly separate those who could be key contributors to this season’s success.
The women’s squad will be a stark contrast to the men’s as this season’s 19-woman roster features 13 true or redshirt freshmen. Several of those young Jayhawks will get a chance to prove themselves this weekend as the coaches have called upon them to don the Crimson and Blue at the Bob Timmons.
Complete results, along with a full recap of the event including video of athlete and coach reaction, will be available on KUAthletics.com following completion of the races. Also follow on Twitter at @KansasXC for live updates and results throughout the morning.
The Jayhawks will return to action on Oct. 5 for their second home meet of the year, the Rim Rock Classic. The starting gun will kick off the men’s 8K race at 9 a.m., while the women will begin their 6K loop at 10 a.m.
MEN’S 2013 PREVIEW
The University of Kansas men’s cross country team enjoyed one of its most successful years of the past decade in 2012, with a high finish in what is considered one of the most competitive conferences in the nation and a ranking in the top-25 for the first time in nearly six years. The good news for the 2013 team is that almost all the pieces that led to the breakthrough season a year ago are back in the Crimson and Blue.
Even with the loss of All-Region performers Donny Wasinger and Gabe Gonzalez, the Jayhawks return the majority of the athletes who were a part of their Big 12 and NCAA Regional squads in 2012, including juniors James Wilson, Evan Landes and Reid Buchanan. KU featured a different top finisher in every race of the season last year and don’t expect that depth to waiver anytime soon.
Senior Josh Munsch enters his final campaign as a Jayhawk and will look to maintain his steady climb to the top of the KU pack. The Hays, Kan. native has been a part of the Jayhawks’ Big 12 and Regional Championship squads each of the last two seasons and has steadily improved to become one of the top 1,500-meter runners in the KU track program’s history. This season he expects to be among KU’s top finishers and give the Jayhawks the all-important depth it needs to be a true contender at the conference and regional levels.
The junior class of Wilson, Landes and Buchanan may be one of the most underrated in the Big 12 and the Jayhawks add a pair of newcomers in Eric Lightfoot and Brent Collins having already notched valuable experience as collegians. Collins was an all-conference performer at Southeast Missouri State while Lightfoot was a member of Southwestern College’s NAIA Championship qualifying team. The two transfers as well as Brendan Soucie, are ready to contribute as part of this star-studded group of juniors.
After redshirting as freshmen several Jayhawks are ready to make their mark on the historical KU cross country program. Ben Brownlee and Brandon Messerly were forced to watch from the sidelines a year ago and have been eager to get out on the trails to show what they can do.
Even with the experienced letterwinners returning, the Kansas coaches are excited to welcome in a young, but talented, group to Lawrence this season. Runners who have already been tested at the national level such as Tyler Yunk, Alexandre Lavigne and Eric Lightfoot will add a valuable component to this year’s squad.
In addition to Lavigne, who hails from Quebec, Canada, KU adds another international in Daniel Koech, who comes to Lawrence from Eldoret, Kenya. The Jayhawks have had success with Kenya natives in the past with Benson Chesang claiming back-to-back individual Big 12 titles in 2003 and 2004.
WOMEN’S 2013 PREVIEW
With nine true freshmen, five redshirt freshmen and only two upperclassmen comprising this year’s 19-woman roster, it’s safe to say the 2013 edition of KU women’s cross country has a youthful look to it. Only two of those who ran for the Jayhawks at last year’s NCAA regional return for this season, leaving plenty of spots to fill for coaches Redwine and Whittlesey, however a strong incoming recruiting class may ease those as well as an eager group of sophomores looking to carry on the momentum started by the KU women’s national championship in outdoor track & field last season.
The top returner for KU this season is undoubtedly sophomore Hannah Richardson, who was one of the Jayhawks’ top-three finishers in every race in which she competed during her debut season with the team. Though only in her second year, she will surely be called upon to lead the young women’s pack this season.
The lone senior in the 2013 roster is Natalie Becker, who is primed for a breakthrough season. As a freshman in 2010, the St. Louis native was KU’s No. 2 runner in every competition, however a strain of injuries has impeded Becker’s progress over the last two seasons. Now with a clean bill of health over the last year, she is ready to recapture the cross country prowess that took her to the top of the KU pack three years ago.
A pair of sophomores, Hayley Francis and Sara Seiwald, showed measured improvements over their redshirt-freshman seasons in 2012 and are hoping to be staples in the Jayhawks’ top group of runners this year. Francis was a member of KU’s Big 12 Championship team a year ago and don’t be surprised if she continues to climb up the depth chart of the women’s team.
One of the largest freshman classes in recent memory makes up over half of this season’s roster and while the first-years may lack experience at the collegiate level, several have tallied some impressive accomplishments during their high school careers. Lawrence native Grace Morgan was a four-time qualifier for the Kansas state cross country meet and was named the High School Runner of the Year by the Lawrence Journal World her senior year. KU also adds twins Malika and Nashia Baker, both of whom led their Lansing High School team to a bronze medal finish at the 2012 Kansas State Cross Country Championships. Frosh Alexis Messerly also signs on with Jayhawks after an impressive senior season, having helped her team to a state title last year.
KU brings in three other out-of-state newcomers in Lydia Saggau, Rachel Simon and Hannah Dimmick. Saggau was a member of the Iowa Cross Country Elite All-State Team as a junior while Simon is a three-time all-conference performer from Barrington, Ill. Dimmick was named to her all-district squad as a junior in McLean, Va., and holds her school’s record in the 5K with a time of 19:08.
Rounding out the freshman class are Kansas natives Courtney Coppinger and Jennifer Angles, both with experience at the state championship level.
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