Jayhawk Cross Country set to host Bob Timmons Classic Saturday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas men’s and women’s cross country teams will start the 2016 season this Saturday, Sept. 3, with the Bob Timmons Dual Classic at the Jayhawks’ home course, Rim Rock Farm. The men’s 6K race will start at 9 a.m., while the women’s 5K will begin at 10 a.m. Kansas Wesleyan, Oral Roberts, and UMKC will also compete this weekend.
The Kansas women are entering this season ranked No. 21 in the nation, according to a U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll. The team has a host of veterans returning, including sophomore All-American Sharon Lokedi, who placed tenth at the 2015 NCAA Championships.
Seniors Malika Baker, Nashia Baker, Lydia Saggau, Courtney Coppinger and Jennifer Angles also join Lokedi with hopes of returning to the NCAA Championships this year after contributing to the team’s 27th-place finish. In addition to the veterans, several key newcomers are expected to deepen the women’s roster even further. Coppinger and Angles are expected to compete for the Jayhawks this weekend.
“We’ve got some quality veterans returning who have really done their work this summer,” said assistant cross country coach Michael Whittlesey. “We’re also going to be putting Riley Cooney and Kayla Funkenbusch in a jersey for the first time, so we’re expecting them to step up and help out. We want to see where our depth is and we want to see some of that group mentality and teamwork on display this weekend.”
The Jayhawk men will be led by senior James Hampton and junior Chris Melgares, two of KU’s top runners last year. The two captains won’t be competing at the Bob Timmons Classic, but they will be cheering from the sidelines as they examine the rest of their teammates that could add to the depth of their team.
Junior Carson Vickroy and sophomore Michael Melgares, joined by senior Markeen Caine and junior Adel Yoonis, are expected to lead the pack this Saturday as they run with a new combination of underclassmen teammates.
“The depth should be really good (for the men this year),” Whittlesey said. “This is probably the first time that this particular group will be working together. They’ve been doing a great job in practice so we’re really looking forward to it.”
Historically, both teams have started off the season strong at the Bob Timmons Classic. The women’s team has put an individual on the victory stand seven times in the 12-year history of the meet. The men’s team, prior to the meet format change that took place in 2015, had an unbeaten streak of placing first.
“We are really well-prepared at this point. There is a maturity that is pervasive on both sides,” concluded Whittlesey. “A lot of them stayed here over the summer and worked together, so their teamwork has been continued and developed. That’s going to be a big boost for this weekend.”
Following the Bob Timmons Classic, the Jayhawks will have nearly a month off before their next meet. Kansas will host the Rim Rock Classic at its home course on Saturday, Oct. 1. The women’s 6K race will begin at 9 a.m., while the men will hit the course for their 8K race at 10 a.m.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.