Jayhawks face tough competition at Rim Rock Classic
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In a pair of tightly contested races, the Kansas men’s and women’s cross country teams placed second and third in their respective runs, as Indiana swept the team titles at the Rim Rock Classic at Rim Rock Farm Saturday morning. Junior Chris Melgares placed sixth overall to lead the KU men in the 8K race, while sophomore Sharon Lokedi led the women with a fourth place finish in the 6K.
On the men’s side, the No. 14-ranked Hoosiers (23 points) took three of the top-five collegiate finishes to out-pace Kansas (42) and Rice (98). In the women’s race, Rice (45) claimed three of the top five positions but finished wedged between Indiana (36) and the 26th-ranked Jayhawks (46). Although the Jayhawks had hoped to come in first, head coach Stanley Redwine was not disappointed with his teams’ finishes.
Sharon Lokedi finished fourth in the women’s race.”It’s our second race, the first 8K for the men – we just have to continue to get better from here,” Redwine said. “This is just where we’re at right now, it doesn’t determine the end of the season. We have to continue to run stronger and practice better.”
It was a solid season-debut for Melgares, as he kept his spot in the lead pack from start to finish and completed the 8K with a time of 24:19.0. He was trailed by sophomore Dylan Hodgson in ninth (24:33.5), senior Daniel Koech in 11th (24:37.0), sophomore Michael Melgares in 12th (24:39.3) and senior James Hampton in 13th (24:42.3), who kept a tight pack for most of the race.
“Chris did a really good job leading the team,” Redwine said. “The other guys have to continue to work their way up to him, and as we go later into the season we’ve got to run better together.”
The Jayhawks placed just behind the No. 14 Indiana, and running with the Hoosiers was the goal from the start.
“Our plan was to go out as a pack and run off of Indiana and we did a really good job of executing that at first,” Chris Melgares said. “Through 4K or 5K we were right with them, but then a break was made and we couldn’t quite answer. In the end it was a close pack for us, but we needed to move it up a little bit more as a team and we would’ve seen a little bit better result.”
After the four-mile mark, KU and Indiana’s top five runners were in a close battle, but going into the last part of the race, Indiana pulled ahead. Rounding out the men’s finishers were junior Ben Burchstead (25:06.8) placing 18th, senior Jacob Ryan (25:14.6) claiming 19th, freshman Avery Hale (25:30.7) finishing 23rd and junior Carson Vickroy (25:25.9) placing 25th.
“Moving forward, we just need to keep building our team chemistry so that we can stay strong for each other when even when it gets hard in a race,” Chris Melgares said.
On the women’s side, sophomore All-American Sharon Lokedi paced a lead pack that consisted of six, then four runners, with Rice’s Abigail Cartwright and Katie Jensen, and Indiana’s Katherine Receveur sticking with until the end. In the final 800 meters, the Rice duo, led by Cartwright made a move to the front, and Receveur passed Lokedi during the final kick to put the Jayhawk in fourth.
“I thought she (Lokedi) did a really good job, but she’s not race-sharp obviously, and it showed,” Redwine said. “If she continues to keep doing what she’s doing, she’ll be alright.”
Lokedi’s teammates stayed together at the beginning, holding firm in a pack just behind the leaders, but as the race progressed they grew further apart.
“At the beginning we ran better, but the race isn’t determined at the beginning, (it’s determined) at the end,” Redwine said. “We need to be up there at the end and run better as a pack. The two Rice ladies ran well together and throughout the race, and it especially showed at the end. Indiana ran really well as a pack and stayed together at the end as a pack and that’s why we were third, that’s the difference today.”
The wave of Jayhawks behind Lokedi consisted of seniors Malika Baker (seventh place; 21:20.1), Nashia Baker (10th place; 21:40.3), Hannah Richardson (12th place; 21:46.7) and Hannah Dimmick (13th place; 21:48.7). Richardson ran with Lokedi for the first 2,000 meters then ran alone before the chase pack caught her.
“I thought it was a strong race,” Malika Baker said. “We definitely want to move forward from here. Our main goal for us today was to go out as one, work together and try to get as many bodies at the end because this is our home course and we wanted to go out and do the best that we could.”
Other Jayhawk women finishers included senior Jennifer Angles finished 15th with a time of 21:57.5, sophomore Riley Cooney placed 19th (22:04.4) and junior Lydia Saggau completed the race in 22:17.8, placing 24th overall.
It is still early in the season, giving the Jayhawks a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months.
“I just love our team chemistry,” Malika Baker said. “We all care about each other so much and want the best for each other. We push each other each day in practice and that’s something that’s so important moving forward. I know we can be a top team going into our conference meet and regional meet so we want to just keep pushing each other as best as we can.”
Both squads turn their attention to the Pre-National Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 15 in Terre Haute, Ind. The women’s 6K race will start at 10 a.m. (CT) and then men will follow with their 8K race at 10:35 a.m. (CT).
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.