Running Together, Jayhawks Sweep Timmons Duals
LAWRENCE, Kan. – First on the list for Kansas’ men’s and women’s cross country teams was to run together. Second, was to finish near the top of the standings. Both goals were achieved Saturday morning as both squads opened the 2016 campaign with a sweep of the competition at the 2016 Bob Timmons Dual Classic at Rim Rock Farm.
Richards used a strong kick to finish as KU’s top performer.Redshirt freshman Bryce Richards led a pack of six KU men’s runners in the top 10 during the 6K race and junior Hannah Dimmick was the leader of seven Jayhawk women among the top 10 in the 5K as Kansas topped UMKC, Oral Roberts and Kansas Wesleyan.
“I was really excited for both teams, we didn’t quite know what to expect with good competition for the race that we had,” Kansas head coach Stanley Redwine said. “I thought both teams really did well packing in front and staying in front. Coach (Michael) Whittlesey has been doing a really good job and they’ve been training – that’s what it looked like, so we’re excited about it.”
Richards’ first official race as a Jayhawk after utilizing a redshirt season last year was a successful one, crossing in a time of 19:31.59 and placing second overall behind former KU runner Jacob Morgan, who ran unattached.
The men’s pack started together and continued to stick together for the majority of the race before Richards pushed ahead in the final segment. Morgan, who has exhausted his eligibility, led wire-to-wire and broke away from the main pack of runners near the mile mark, while the rest of the Jayhawks remained clustered.
Richards finished nine seconds before his teammate sophomore Michael Melgares, who was third overall with a time of 19:40.86. The next two to cross the finish line were also Jayhawks. Junior Carson Vickroy and freshman Avery Hale followed closely behind Melgares with times of 19:42.05 and 19:43.49, respectively.
“That (packing) was the plan going into it,” Richards said. “Coach (Whittlesey) wanted us to stay controlled and make sure to own our home course. This really shows how my summer training has paid off and I’m really excited for the rest of the year.”
Rounding out the men’s scorers were senior Jacob Ryan (19:59.7) placing ninth, junior Adel Yoonis (20:08.6) claiming 11th, sophomore Ryan Liston (20:11.4) in 13th, senior Markeen Caine (20:42.2) at 17th and junior Jack McDonald, who ran his 6K in 20:56.7 for a 19th-place finish.
In the women’s race, the Jayhawks followed a similar plan and ran in a tight group near the front of the field. They competed as a team, but once it became clear that KU had a comfortable lead, it was anyone’s race within the pack.
Dimmick and junior Grace Morgan spent the first third of the race in the lead position before senior Jennifer Angles took her turn setting the pace. Dimmick used her strength to power through the wooded hills and into a lead position before hanging on at the end to win.
“We had just an awesome pack there in the middle and Coach Whitt said if it gets to the end and you’re not racing another team you can have fun with it,” Dimmick said. “I felt like we really worked together there on the hills going into the third mile, then it was just kind of whoever’s day it was. We’re all equally good this year, today was just my day so I kind of just went with it.”
Dimmick’s first-place finish marks the first of her career as she completed the 5K race in a time of 18:21.82. Just when she felt like she was starting to reach her breaking point, Dimmick received encouragement from her track teammates that gave her the boost she needed to claim her victory.
“There was one (hill) where the whole track team was lined up and that was kind of a decision point for me. It was enough into that race where I was like, ‘I don’t know if I like this sport,'” Dimmick laughed. “I was going up the hill and I was wondering if I let the pack in front of me go and I saw the whole track team on the side and everyone was cheering for us and I made the decision to keep going with it. After that hill it started rolling a little better, it was a pretty cool moment there.”
The Jayhawks took second and third place with sophomore Riley Cooney clocking a 18:27.86, passing Angles, who completed the 5K in a time of 18:30.55, in the final stretch. KU also saw three of the next four runners to cross the finish line as Morgan (18:51.8) placed fifth, sophomore Emmie Skopec (18:54.8) finished sixth and senior Rachel Simon (19:13.0) finished seventh.
“I’m excited for the overall win today,” Dimmick said. “But I’m even more excited about the four or five KU girls lined up right behind me.”
Sophomore Kayla Funkenbusch was the final Jayhawk to score in the women’s race, placing 11th after completing the 5K with a time of 19:41.2.
After a pair of sweeps at the Bob Timmons Dual Classic, both teams look forward to the rest of the year.
“It’s a great way to start,” Redwine said. “It’s early. We just have to see how it progresses and hopefully the people who were not able to race today will be able to race at our next home meet and we’ll see the same results.”
The Jayhawk men and women have nearly a month to prepare for the next meet, which will be back on their home course of Rim Rock Farm. The Rim Rock Classic is set for Saturday, Oct. 3 and will begin at 9 a.m.
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