Lokedi finishes runner-up at regionals; qualifies for NCAA Championships
AMES, Iowa – For the third year in a row, Kansas cross country junior Sharon Lokedi earned a trip to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, finishing second at this year’s Midwest Regional hosted by Iowa State at the ISU Cross Country Course in Ames, Iowa. Lokedi’s runner-up effort helped the Jayhawk women finish 10th, while the men’s team ran to an 18th-place finish.
Alaina Schroeder earned All-Region honors.
Along with Lokedi’s second place finish, junior Alaina Schroeder earned All-Region honors by placing 18th, finishing second for the Kansas women.
Lokedi stayed with the front of the pack the entire race, hitting the one mile checkpoint in third place behind Eastern Illinois’ Alexandria Gutt and the 2016 NCAA Women’s Cross Country Champion, Karissa Schweizer of Missouri. At the 3K split, Lokedi moved her way into the first-place spot, before dropping back to second by the 5K marker and ultimately finishing with a time of 20:11.6 behind Schweizer (19:50.9).
“I’m really excited for Sharon,” head coach Stanley Redwine said. “She’s put in the work and the results have paid off. She’s just phenomenal, she’s just a hard worker and she’s looking forward to the NCAAs.”
Schroeder’s time of 20:38.9 was her best 6K time of the season, nearly two seconds faster than her 11th-place time at the Big 12 Championship on October 28.
“We were really excited for Alaina,” Redwine said. “She has really come along this year. I know her goal was to try and make the NCAAs, but so is everyone else’s in the nation. I think this year has been phenomenal and I’m excited to see how it transpires through the outdoor season.”
Sophomore Riley Cooney was the third Jayhawk to cross the finish line, clocking in at 21:31.0 to finish 78th. Redshirt sophomore Lauren Harrell (21:53.0) and senior Hannah Dimmick (21:57.4) rounded out the scoring for the KU women, placing 113th and 122nd, respectively.
“I thought the girls did a really good job,” Redwine said. “We knew that Sharon and Alaina had a better chance of making it, so they had to run more toward the front of the pack and then the others to move more at the middle of the pack. They all did their jobs, we just have to continue to get better and not be satisfied with where we are.”
The Kansas men were led by junior Michael Melgares, who placed 52nd overall with a 10K time of 30:11.1. Melgares hit the mile mark in 53rd, before dropping back to 60th at the 3K checkpoint. He moved back up to 52nd by the 5K split and worked his way up to 43rd at the 8K mark before dropping back nine spots in the final 2K.
Senior Carson Vickroy was the second KU finisher, placing 82nd with a time of 30:33.0. Sophomore Avery Hale (30:56.6) and redshirt freshman George Letner (31:09.4) were the Jayhawks’ third and fourth finishers, placing 104th and 119th, respectively.
Sophomore Bryce Richards was the final Kansas scorer finishing with a time of 31:11.0. Richards hit the mile checkpoint in 44th, and moved all the way up to fourth place at the 3K and 5K marks, before ultimately falling back to finish 123rd.
Lokedi’s runner-up finish matches her performance from last season’s regional meet, and is the third-straight year she’s finished in the top three at the Midwest Regional. Her finish makes her an auto-qualifier for the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Schroeder hopes to be an at-large individual selection, which is expected to be announced Monday.
The NCAA Championships will be held at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky on November 18. The women’s 6K race will start at 9:45 a.m. CDT. Lokedi will look to become the first three-time All-American in Kansas Cross Country history, after finishing in fifth place last season and 10th two years ago. Her first meet of the season was the Pre-National Invitational at the same course as the NCAA Championship, where she finished eighth overall.